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Smith cries foul over fast-track dam bill

Nick Smith National Environment Spokesperson

9 December 2003

Smith cries foul over fast-track dam bill

National decided today to vigorously oppose special legislation to fast-track Government-owned Meridian Energy's $1.2 billion Project Aqua on the Lower Waitaki River.

"This Bill is about the Government writing the rules to suit itself," says National's Environment spokesperson Nick Smith.

"It is a gross abuse of power for the Government to insist on every other power company, business and citizen complying with the existing Resource Management Act, but for it to exempt itself.

"This Bill fast-tracks the six-dam Project Aqua by removing key appeal processes, giving wider powers to strike out objections and by skewing the principles of the Act in favour of development.

"These new rules apply only to the Waitaki River and suggest the Government believes this river is of lesser environmental importance.

"National has consistently advocated for substantial reform of the Resource Management Act with a Bill in 1999, 'Fixing the RMA' proposals in 2001 and a special Parliamentary committee this year.

"New Zealand does face a major energy crisis without investment, but this is best achieved by a fair set of rules for all," says Dr Smith.

"It is hypocritical of Labour, which has blocked private sector developments like the Dobson scheme on the West Coast, to now be creating special rules for its own company," he says.

The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill is to have it first reading tomorrow.


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