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Ministers Engage in Double Dealing

Ministers Engage in Double Dealing

The Conservation Minister's refusal to allow a land-swap that would let Trustpower's Arnold River hydro scheme proceed is a graphic example of this Government's double dealings, ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"The scheme involves upgrading the existing Arnold River Power Station from 15 megawatts to 65 megawatts capacity, which would make the West Coast self-sufficient and enable additional surplus power to be fed into the national grid.

"The scheme comprises a canal and dam with the creation of a hydro lake of some 500 hectares flooding three small valleys in Card Creek. Two hundred and fifty hectares of this lake are part of the DOC estate, some of which was only recently transferred from Timberlands West Coast and had been designated production land.

"The local authorities co-operating with Trustpower propose a land swap offering some 700 hectares of prime indigenous forest for the 250 hectares of DOC land. The Minister is steadfastly refusing to engage in the swap and in replies to Parliamentary oral questions last year show he is precluded from doing so by the provisions of the Conservation Act.

"The double dealing of the Government is revealed by the fact that in September last year the Minister of Conservation approved a land swap of DOC land to allow a marae to be built in Jacksons Bay.

"With the country desperately in need of new generation capacity, the Government is refusing to allow this hydro scheme to proceed in a water abundant catchment. If their claim that land swaps involving DOC land are not permitted by the Act is correct then they should change the law to facilitate this move - but in any event the land swap for the marae reveals double dealing," Mr Shirley said.

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