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Copeland: Conservation Minister is wrong

Copeland: Conservation Minister is wrong

United Future energy spokesman, Gordon Copeland, says the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, is wrong in his obstinate refusal to allow the Dobson Valley hydro scheme on the West Coast to go ahead.

"The storm of controversy which has broken out in relation to the extension of the hydro scheme at Dobson is indicative of the deeper systemic problems surrounding the operation of the Conservation Act 1987. The entire process is deeply flawed," he says.

"Trustpower is offering to swap a piece of land covered in mature native forest in exchange for the Department of Conservation owned land which will be flooded once the dam is built.

"In conservation terms, they are offering a jewel for a rock, with a significant net gain to the conservation estate of New Zealand. This is a scenario made in heaven. DOC gains and a desperately needed hydro scheme in a high rainfall area of New Zealand goes ahead. It is the ultimate win/win situation.

"In spite of this, Conservation Minister Chris Carter remains staunch in his view that the hydro scheme cannot be allowed to proceed. He claims that he is prevented by the Conservation Act 1987 from giving away the land to be flooded because in addition to gorse and macrocarpa it contains some kahikatea and matai which are now relatively rare species in New Zealand. He is unwilling to budge, even although some of those trees are also growing on the land offered in exchange by Trustpower.

"The resultant stalemate is entirely unacceptable. I again call on the Government to allow this matter to go to arbitration and to review the operation of the Conservation Act 1987 to ensure that the hydro-electrical potential of this country can, consistent with maintaining the conservation estate, be unleashed for the good of all," says Mr Copeland.

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