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Waitaki Bill still deficient says National

22 March 2004

Dr Nick Smith - National Environment Spokesman

Waitaki Bill still deficient says National

National has been successful in eliminating the most obnoxious provisions in the Government's special legislation for Project Aqua, but the Bill still has serious deficiencies, says Nick Smith, National's Environment Spokesman.

Dr Smith's comments come in response to the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill as reported back from the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today.

"The Bill is much improved from that introduced by Environment Minister Marion Hobbs, but you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear," says Dr Smith.

Specific improvements that National welcomes are:

1. Reducing the powers of the Minister to sack members of the Water Allocation Board.

2. Removing the Minister's power to direct the Board on process and to override the Resource Management Act.

3. Removing clauses enabling the normal and thorough section 32 analysis to be bypassed when developing the water allocation plan.

4. Removing the "national perspective" test for Project Aqua.

5. Transferring consent processing for Project Aqua from the Ministry for the Environment to Environment Canterbury.

"National remains opposed to this Bill because it does not provide for normal Environment Court appeals and because the consent criteria is being skewed from that for any other resource consent," says Dr Smith

"We are also concerned that it makes no attempt to ensure historic commitments given to farmers in the MacKenzie are honoured.

"The great irony with this Bill is that Labour has steadfastly defended the Resource Management Act but when it comes to its own billion dollar project it wants to change the rules to suit itself," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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