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Power To The River, Say Greens


FRIDAY 20TH JUNE

Power to the river, say Greens

The Green Party will campaign locally and in Parliament against the Project Aqua hydro scheme for the Waitaki Valley.

Green Co-leaders Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald visited the Waitaki Valley last month to study plans for Project Aqua and assess for themselves its impact on the environment. Now, on their recommendation, the party has taken a position to oppose the project.

"It is time we stopped destroying natural rivers just to heat our towel rails," Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today. "If Project Aqua goes ahead it will destroy forever the unique nature of New Zealand's largest braided river.

"Aqua will be the biggest Think Big hydro project since the Clyde Dam. It would channel over 70 per cent of the water out of the river and into a 60-kilometre long canal. Wildlife habitat, wetlands, fishing, recreation and housing would all be affected."

While the decisions are made by Environment Canterbury and ultimately the Environment Court, not Parliament, the Otago Greens will be actively involved in the resource consent process and Green MPs will continue to highlight alternatives to the project in the House.

"No one wants to face a power crisis every winter, but the answer lies neither in bigger hydro projects nor in new coal fired stations," Ms Fitzsimons said. "It is time we stopped expecting the environment to subsidise our wasteful energy use, otherwise it will always be 'just one more dam,' till no more rivers are left. Project Aqua will only postpone the problem.

"The only practical, long-term solutions to solving our energy problems without substantially changing our lifestyle are using energy more wisely, and investing in truly renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar heating and wood waste. Certainly, the $1.2 billion spent on Aqua could buy a lot of energy efficiency.

"The latest power crisis has shown what New Zealanders can achieve when they are focused on saving energy. Ten per cent was a good start but we could be saving up to 30 per cent every day with more efficient technology and more careful behaviour. Acting now will save our pockets and our environment in the future.

"We have enough energy now, if we use it wisely, but we will never have enough if we carry on as we are."

ENDS

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