The new Dunedin Hospital site has been selected and gone to Cabinet for consideration with an announcement on the $1.4 billion project likely next month.

Peter Hodgson, the former Labour health minister who is convenor of the project’s Local Advisory Group said the work on the site had concluded and a recommendation had gone to the relevant ministers from the Southern Partnership Group.

The government approved the indicative business case for rebuilding the hospital last year for a cost between $1.2 billion to $1.2 billion as renovating the existing Ward Block was expected to take longer and cost more than starting a new building from scratch.  In December the Ministry of Health said it estimated that the rebuild would be completed in seven to 10 years.

Hodgson said making a recommendation on the site meant the Local Advisory Group could now get on and deal with other issues with the first of these being how the new hospital would be heated.

“Dunedin has New Zealand’s only district energy scheme, which heats the current hospital, but it is old and it is run predominantly on coal. The opportunity exists to switch to renewables, perhaps wood chips, and it is almost certain that the new hospital will therefore be heated with renewable energy,” said Hodgson.

“It is also distinctly possible that the hospital could become a cornerstone consumer in a larger district energy scheme involving the University and many other users. That depends on feasibility work currently underway with the Dunedin City Council, and with Pioneer Energy who are possible providers. In the final analysis the way forward will depend on costs and prices. But we can already be pretty sure that the new hospital will not be using fossil fuels as a heating source.”

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