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Who will speak for the river?

Who will speak for the river?

The Green Party is questioning a major gap in the make-up of the board responsible for developing the regional water allocation plan for the Waitaki Catchment.

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the five members of the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board named today (Thursday) did not bring all the skills required by the legislation.

“They are all no doubt very good people in their fields,” said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Environment spokesperson. “The panel is strong on water allocation and particularly on irrigation economics and hydro, but it is lacking in at least one rather vital area.

“The new Act says the Minister must have regard to the need for ‘knowledge, skill and experience in relation to matters likely to come before the Board about...river ecology’.

“Nothing in their biographies suggest any expertise in the needs of the Waitaki River itself - its threatened wildlife, world-renowned fisheries and superb recreational values. This has always been our concern about this process.”

Ms Fitzsimons, who chaired the select committee that considered and substantially amended the legislation, called on the Environment Minister to add a freshwater ecologist to the board to fill the gap.

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