INDEPENDENT NEWS

Greens Question Waitaki Plan

Published: Wed 3 Dec 2003 04:36 PM
Greens Question Waitaki Plan
The Green Party is supportive of Government attempts to establish a framework for allocation of Waitaki River water, but concerned that the process could be just an elaborate way to rubber-stamp the Project Aqua power scheme.
The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill has been tabled in Parliament today.
"If it is a genuine attempt to protect the values of the Waitaki itself and the interests of the local community, then we support it," said Ms Fitzsimons. "However, if it's just another way of fast-tracking Project Aqua and a few major irrigation schemes, then we have serious concerns.
"Present and past government should be ashamed that such legislation is necessary. But the fact is that both the Resource Management Act and regional councils around the country have failed for 12 years to provide a framework for water allocation against which applications can be measured, and the Ministry for the Environment has stood back and watched them fail.
"In this situation, the Government is right to initiate a process for water allocation under the resource management criteria of the RMA. But that begs the question: why include only the Waitaki in this legislation?
"What is needed is general legislation requiring regional councils to establish allocation plans for all the water resources they control.
"We have quite specific concerns with the detail of the Waitaki plan, particularly with the possible abuse of the Environment Minister's power to appoint the board that determines water allocation amongst different users.
"These appointees could be 'political appointments' in the worst sense of the term, while the skills base provided by a board that could be as small as just two members also gives cause for concern," said Ms Fitzsimons.
"Considering the board's decision cannot be appealed, it is essential that it be given the resources and time to get it right first off."
ENDS

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