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Government Must Direct Meridian To Drop Aqua



Residents of the Waitaki Valley say that with the passing of The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Act the Government has done nothing to allay their concern that Project Aqua is far from dead.

And the residents are calling on the Government to get its wholly owned company Meridian Energy to immediately withdraw its applications to take water from the Waitaki River for Project Aqua.

Save The Waitaki spokesperson Kate White says the government is statutorily obligated to ensure that its corporations are acting in a socially responsible manner as good corporate citizens but by leaving their water right applications in place Meridian is certainly not doing this.

"If Project Aqua is really off as the company has indicated there can be no justification for the applications staying in place. They continue to cause huge anxiety and stress within our community and the government is legally and morally bound to see that its company desists from causing such hardship.

"How can we believe anything but that Meridian is indulging is a massive confidence trick shelving the project until they get the water rights for hydro development then miraculously raising Aqua from the ashes.

"No doubt that will be surrounded by the similar kind of announcement we have heard before about the project being needed in the national interest. The trouble this time was that with hydro lakes reasonably full they could not sustain their fallacious arguments.

"Its very simple. If Aqua is really off they don’t need the water rights, and they should not be wasting money applying for them. One would have to be a fool other than to draw the conclusion that they still want to go ahead, perhaps at a more politically opportune time.

"Even the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs can’t seriously believe that her company is spending considerable sums pursuing its water right applications when it has no intention of proceeding with Aqua once it gets them.

"What Ms Hobbs and the government have done with the passing of this special legislation is open the door for hydro on the Waitaki. Two thirds of the river has already been given over to hydro and now the government is saying an allocation of the last remaining 65 kms will also be given to hydro.

"We are highly disappointed and to have Ms Hobbs in her Media Statement saying the government wants to ensure water allocation is equitable, expedient and transparent, it is rubbing salt in our wound.

"If this was really the government’s objective they would be putting similar provisions in place for all New Zealand rivers. One cannot logically help but come to the conclusion that the special legislation was written because of Aqua, and that it has been continued to facilitate the son of Aqua."

Kate White says the people of the Waitaki have been treated shoddily by the government and Meridian throughout the whole Aqua process and for the Minister to be attempting to argue that she is now doing them a favour with the special legislation is nothing short of a gross insult.


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