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Project Aqua declared network utility operation

Project Aqua to be declared network utility operation

The government has decided that Meridian Energy's Project Aqua will be declared a network utility operation under the Resource Management Act, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

Project Aqua is a joint hydro and irrigation development on the lower Waitaki River below Kurow in North Otago. It is being developed to meet future energy demand and to irrigate 30,000 hectares of land.

"The decision will not affect the public's right to have its say on the scheme," Marian Hobbs said. "Meridian will still need to make its case before the local councils and Environment Court with public input. Project Aqua will stand or fall on its own merits."

The company will now have to apply to the minister for "requiring authority status" before it can seek to have land designated for Project Aqua.

"This is a separate step and declaring it a network utility operation does not guarantee that requiring authority status will be granted. Section 167 (4) of the RMA sets out the matters I must take into account," Marian Hobbs said.

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