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Waimea Dam Bill widely supported at first reading

Waimea Dam Bill widely supported at first reading

Support has been welcomed from National, Labour, NZ First and Act parties for the introduction of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill that saw 112 votes in support to eight opposed and its referral to the Governance and Administration Select Committee, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“This Bill is the last critical piece of work required to enable the construction of this dam in the Lee Valley and resolve the long term problems of water security and river health on the Waimea Plains. The project has full resource consents and the $100 million in funding required from horticulturalists, Government and Council. This Bill is about resolving the issue of access to the land for the reservoir in the Mount Richmond Forest Park.

“My support for this Bill in enabling the Council access to this DOC and LINZ land is that the environmental gains from increasing minimum flows in the Waimea River by five-fold far outweigh the small loss of 11 hectares of land out of a park of 166,000 hectares. This is about practical environmentalism as the dam is the only realistic solution to the region’s critical summer water shortages.

“The opposition of this Bill from the Green Party is ideological. They cannot accept any conservation land being used for any sort of engineering structures even when all the technical reports shows it is the only realistic solution to improving the health of the Waimea River. Their proposals for Nelson to move away from water intensive crops like apples, berryfruit, wine and hops ignores the fact that we have an abundance of water and just need the infrastructure to better manage it through the seasons.

“The benefits of this Bill are a cleaner and healthier Waimea River, increased jobs and exports from the horticultural sector, additional water to support more housing and improving the regions resilience to climate change.

“I will be working closely with the Select Committee to meet the requirement for it to be reported back to Parliament by 7 November. My ambition is to try and have the Bill passed by Christmas but it will be tight. The next step is to finalise dates for submissions to close and to schedule hearings in Nelson next month.”

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