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The real cost of keeping the lights on

The real cost of keeping the lights on

New Zealand's fragile environment should not be made to pay the price this winter for decades of bad energy decisions by successive governments, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"I am horrified by suggestions that the Government may be considering introducing legislation to lower the minimum lake levels for the big South Island hydro lakes," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Those minimum levels were set after very careful consideration of the effect on the environment. They are there for a reason and to suddenly lower them another five metres is likely to have serious consequences, particularly to local bird life.

"Lake Pukaki is a major habitat for our tiny population of black stilts, the rarest wading bird in the world. There are just 61 adult black stilts remaining and any deaths would create serious concerns about the survival of the species.

"Are we really prepared to sacrifice an entire species just to have our streets well-lit, or so we can take a hot bath at any hour of the day or night?

Ms Fitzsimons, who is also the party's spokesperson on energy and on the environment, has been warning of the long-term effects of ill-considered energy decisions for more than twenty years.

"Any time we misuse our resources, or push them beyond a sustainable limit, we expect to be able to fix our mistakes by putting more pressure on the environment.

"Very slowly, people are waking up to the fact that our environment is not a bottom-less treasure-trove that instantly renews itself every time we plunder it.

"There are many, many things that can be done to cut power consumption before we look at harming our habitat," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Reducing street and motorway lighting would bring savings, so would reduced hours for TV transmission.

"Looking at the bright lights burning in our cities every night also makes me wonder how seriously some businesses are treating the situation.

"Let's do all we can to reduce our own often wasteful use of power, before we make even more demands of our environment."

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