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Meridian Energy welcomes High Court decision

30 November 2004

Meridian Energy welcomes High Court decision

State-owned power generator and retailer Meridian Energy has welcomed today's decision from the High Court on the status of its water rights in the Upper Waitaki. Chief Executive Keith Turner says the decision is an unequivocal endorsement of Meridian¹s existing rights to use the water for hydro generation.

Not only is this decision positive for Meridian in the Upper Waitaki, it is also extremely positive for every other holder of a water right anywhere in New Zealand. It makes it absolutely clear that they are able to rely upon the rights conferred by their resource consents.

Dr Turner says the decision is also very important for the environment, as it ensures that a water resource cannot be over-allocated. The High Court action which was heard in Timaru in September, was brought by the Aoraki Water Trust, which was seeking to divert a significant volume of water from Lake Tekapo into South Canterbury for irrigation purposes.

Meridian had opposed the move, saying that it would reduce the volume of electricity able to be generated by the chain of hydro stations on the Upper Waitaki which use the water eight times over, and at a time when the electricity system is fully stretched to meet New Zealand¹s needs.

Any such loss of water was estimated to cost more than $100 million, and would have represented a major reduction in the value of the investment that every New Zealander has in Meridian Energy. Dr Turner says Meridian understands the importance of irrigation to South Canterbury, and the company is keen to explore other ways of making it happen.

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We have done a lot of work on water harvesting alternatives and have discussed the options in the past with AWT. We want to renew the dialogue, so that we can work together in meeting the community¹s objectives.

Dr Turner says Meridian was instrumental in bringing to reality a major new irrigation scheme in North Otago that will bring water to 10,000 hectares and may extend to 20,000 hectares.

ENDS

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