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Copeland welcomes Project Aqua review

Tuesday, 14 September 2004

Copeland welcomes Project Aqua review

United Future energy spokesperson Gordon Copeland today welcomed confirmation from the Hon Mark Burton, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, that an independent expert from PriceWaterhouseCoopers Australia has been appointed to carry out a post-project audit of Project Aqua.

“When SOE Meridian Energy announced the cancellation of the $1.2 billion hydro scheme on the Waitaki River, ”said Mr Copeland, “they laid the major portion of the blame on the Resource Management Act and the Waitaki Water Allocation Bill. Subsequently they advised that the net cost of the cancellation will be at least $ 45 million and perhaps a great deal more.

“In these circumstances it’s vitally important that an independent review be undertaken. In reality was it the Waitaki Water Allocation Bill, a forecast rise in the project’s cost of completion, subsoil and geological conditions, or the opposition of the locals etc etc which led to the cancellation?

“We need to know what lessons can be learned and whether the failure of Project Aqua also signals the end of large-scale hydro projects in New Zealand at a time when we are desperately short of low cost electricity.

“Will it be possible to resurrect Project Aqua, possibly in a scaled-down form? Can the company itself and other potential hydro generators learn something so that the risk of such project failure is reduced in the future? Does Parliament need to change the RMA?

“The public of New Zealand, the ultimate shareholders in Meridian Energy, are entitled to answers to these and similar questions,” said Mr Copeland.


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