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Tongariro ruling reduces NZ to nutcase status

Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Tongariro ruling reduces New Zealand to nutcase status

United Future’s energy spokesperson Gordon Copeland believes the Environment Court’s decision to reduce the resource renewal for the Tongariro Hydro Scheme from 35 to just 10 years does further damage to New Zealand’s international reputation as an investment destination.

“Frankly we risk becoming a laughing stock if we continue down the road of political correctness over common sense.

“The Environment Court has ruled that the continued diversion of the headwaters of the Whanganui, Whangaehu, and Moawhango Rivers on the North Island Central Plateau is “sacrilege”, a “denigration of Maori values and beliefs”, and “hurtful of Maori self-esteem”.

“Let’s for once get real. If asked, I am sure the overwhelming majority of NZ Maori, like the rest of us, don’t want to risk going without electricity in their homes and businesses.

“Yet that is exactly what the Environment Court decision is now risking. It is unacceptable for any unelected group – no matter how well intentioned – to place New Zealand’s electricity supply in jeopardy. The decision borders on the surreal.

“Does anyone really think that the self esteem of Maori families in the Whanganui River basin is dependant upon having some additional water flowing down to the Whanganui River and into the ocean?

“The Whanganui River is hardly devoid of water and continues to flood on a semi-regular basis. We are off into some mystical journey into the metaphysical when things reach this juncture and I am not convinced that the majority of Maori are interested in going down that pathway.

“I receive emails from Maori saying that their major concerns are everyday issues like good health, quality education, family breakdown and drugs.

“What does the reduction of water flows in the Whanganui River do to assist in these areas? Absolutely nothing!”

Mr Copeland said “We are in the midst of an electricity crisis. We already have enormous problems in terms of uncertainty and delays caused by the RMA process for both electricity generation and transmission.

“The government has foolishly placed the entire conservation estate – about one third of New Zealand’s land area – out of bounds for new hydro schemes and we have the uncertainty of their intention in relation to carbon charges arising from the Kyoto Protocol. We have just seen the plug pulled on Project Aqua because, at the end of the day, it all proved too difficult.

“The Environment Court’s decision is the final straw. The business risks now associated with investing in electricity generation – risk created through our own legislation – is such that severe electricity shortages now seem almost inevitable.

“The resultant damage to our standard of living doesn’t bear thinking about, said Mr Copeland.


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