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New Group Formed To Stop Hydro Scheme

New Group Formed To Stop Hydro Scheme On The Wairau River

A new community group, “Save the Wairau Committee”, has been formed to oppose plans by TrustPower to take up to 40 cubic metres of Marlborough’s Wairau River and put it into 46 kilometres of a canal with five power stations.

“Our group is strongly opposed to this Tauranga based power company coming into Marlborough and trying to set up a new Project Aqua on one of our icon rivers,” says Neil Deans, spokesperson for the group. “We were so dismayed by the proposal that we have decided to start a ‘Save the Wairau’ campaign to stop this proposal from ransacking our river.”

Thirty representatives from fishing, hunting, kayaking and environmental groups met in Nelson this month to examine the proposed hydro scheme by TrustPower. The ‘Save the Wairau’ group includes Fish & Game New Zealand, Forest & Bird, Marlborough Environment Centre, New Zealand Jet Boat Association, Marlborough and Nelson Freshwater Fishing Clubs, and the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association.

“You would have thought that TrustPower would have got the message that more destruction of New Zealand’s natural wilderness for hydro schemes is no longer acceptable. There are plenty of other options such as energy conservation, wind and upgrading transmission that power companies should be looking at.”

“TrustPower through their canals intends to privatise the river, preventing public access, leaving a tiny proportion of the river for the community. Irrigators should be concerned about the possible impact of the TrustPower proposal on their interests.”

“The Wairau is one of the longest braided rivers in the country. It is a nationally important habitat for river birds and nationally important trout fishery. The Wairau has the largest national breeding population of Black Fronted Terns. Eleven thousand resident anglers fish this river each year,” says Mr Deans.

Says Neil Deans: “This scheme will substantially harm bird and fish habitat, reducing it by 25-40%. It will make river based recreations such as jet boating, rafting and kayaking impossible. The reduced water flow will mean that contamination from increased agriculture in the Wairau Valley will be concentrated. Most of the 45 km canal is within 200 metres of the Main Divide earthquake fault.”

“TrustPower proposes a wind farm at Seddon which would produce the same power output for about half the cost and sooner. Why put the Wairau at risk?”

“The Wairau River is a highly valued public asset for the people of Marlborough and Nelson. They deserve better than to have it taken away and sold back to them. We will be strongly campaigning for the scheme to be scrapped.”

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