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Irrigators Set Up To Fail, Says Eckhoff

Irrigators Set Up To Fail, Says Eckhoff

Tuesday 23 March 2004 Gerry Eckhoff

Labour has set up irrigators to fail when they present their case to the Government-appointed Water Allocation Committee, regarding water rights to the Waitaki River, ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.

"Despite the social and environmental impacts of Meridian Energy receiving an exclusive right to Waitaki water, the Government has ensured it will win by placing renewable energy generation as a priority under the RMA," Mr Eckhoff said.

"On the other hand, irrigators have constantly pointed out that Meridian Energy can generate power from coal and other sources - irrigators can only use water.

"One of the most disquieting aspects over the use of the Waitaki River is Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton's failure to advocate on behalf of his constituents. The irrigators have constantly pointed out that industry and town water supply also benefit from putting water to its highest use. Why then does Mr Sutton not speak publicly on their behalf?

"Clearly, Labour believes Meridian should have exclusive use of Waitaki water and, again, I ask : why the silence from the Forest & Bird Society over the loss of this braided river? Where is their campaign to save the Waitaki?

"Further, why the silence from the Conservation Department, the Environment Ministry and the Environment Commissioner? There is clearly a very murky deal being done behind closed doors to guarantee the unhindered progress of Project Aqua," Mr Eckhoff said.

ENDS

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