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Aqua-style scheme can be stopped

24 June 2004

Aqua-style scheme can be stopped by Aqua-style opposition

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling on the thousands of Ne
w Zealanders who opposed Project Aqua to now mobilise behind a campaign to save another river threatened by a canal-based power scheme.

Fish and Game, Forest and Bird, the NZ Jet Boat Association, the NZ Professional Fishing Guides' Association and the Marlborough Environment Centre yesterday launched the 'Save the Wairau' in response to Trustpower's proposal to build an Aqua-like power scheme on the river in Marlborough. Ms Fitzsimons attended a meeting mobilising opposition to the Wairau scheme in April and Green Party Environment Outreach Worker Deborah Martin has since toured the threatened river with local activists.

"I call on the 6000-plus people who made submissions opposing the potential destruction of the Waitaki to now get involved into fighting this spawn of Aqua on the Wairau," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Energy and Conservation Spokesperson.

"Yet again we are facing a 'just more river' scenario. Environmentally, New Zealand simply can't afford to lose any more rivers. And if one of the principle threats to our electricity generation is lack of rain, it is hard to see how more hydro is going to provide the energy security we need.

"This proposal is smaller in scale than Aqua, but will actually take a larger proportion of the smaller river's water. Aqua would have taken 74 per cent of the Waitaki's median flow; this scheme would take over 85 per cent of the Wairau's median flow for seven months of the year.

"Curiously, Trustpower is being somewhat schizophrenic in that it is investigating the far more sensible idea of a wind farm at nearby Seddon, which could potentially generate as much power as the Wairau hydro at half the cost. Such distributed generation, along with serious efforts to facilitate energy conservation, is the solution to the looming energy crisis this country faces.

"The Wairau is New Zealand's longest braided river. It has a diverse range of habitats and has been recognised internationally as the site of the largest breeding populations of two of our endangered species, the black-fronted tern and black-billed gull.

"Quite apart from there being little water left for recreational users such as anglers and jetboaters, the small flow will mean it will be less able to dilute run-off from farms, increasing the toxicity of the surviving river," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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