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Greens ask Minister to sort-out Aqua muddle

22 January, 2004

Greens ask Minister to sort-out Aqua muddle

The Green Party is calling on the Minister for the Environment to untangle the confusion surrounding the back-to-front submission process on Project Aqua.

The public has been invited to make submissions on proposals by Meridian Energy and major irrigation projects to take water from the Waitaki River. However, those submissions close long before the allocation plan, which will determine how much water needs to stay in the riverbed itself and how much should be allocated to irrigation compared with electricity generation, is even written.

"People are being asked to write submission in the dark, without knowing the rules by which they will be judged," said Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons. "They have also been given a deadline of mid-March when those submissions cannot be heard until the end of the year, when the water allocation plan is in place."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was a fundamental principal of the Resource Management Act is that all issues are considered together for the same project. "Yet it appears local authorities may be hearing submissions on Project Aqua's land use applications from the end of February, while its applications to take water will not be considered until the end of the year.

"The Green Party proposes that submissions written at this stage should be treated just as input to the water allocation plan, and that once that framework is complete submissions should be reopened on all applications to take water."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party was willing to work with the Government to help sort out this unfair and confusing situation.

ENDS

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