Meridian Energy and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have filed a joint memorandum in the Environment Court requesting the appeals relating to the Mokihinui hydro proposal be put on hold.

The application has the support of the Buller District and West Coast Regional Councils.

The appeals related to a decision by the councils to grant resource consents for a new hydro electric scheme on the Mokihinui River, north of Westport.

The controversial scheme involved building an 85m high dam, creating a 14km-long reservoir.

Meridian chief executive Tim Lusk said the project was proposed for stewardship land administered by DOC and required the consent of the Minister of Conservation to go ahead, as well as the usual resource consents.

"Meridian is committed to the Mokihinui hydro project," he said.

"Both parties agree that issues relating to land access need to be addressed before we can take this process further through the court process.

"Taking the time to carefully work through these issues before advancing to the Environment Court is the most logical and cost effective way of simplifying a complicated process for all concerned," said Mr Lusk.

He said that in applying for the minister's consent, Meridian may have the opportunity to address some matters raised by DOC in its appeal to the Environment Court.

"It would be more efficient and appropriate to see if we can deal with those issues as part of that dialogue," Mr Lusk said.

If the Environment Court agreed, Meridian and DOC will file a progress report with the court within six months.

Depending on progress with discussions, Meridian may make new applications to DOC for the project.

Spokesman Rory Newsam said DOC had made its views on the environmental impact of the proposed scheme clear through the resource consent hearings, and still opposed the granting of resource consents.

"However given the formal withdrawal of Meridian's applications for both concessions and a land exchange in relation to the Mokihinui proposal, DOC does not wish to unnecessarily tie up court time and is seeking the appeal be put on hold," he said.

- NZPA