NEW ZEALAND BASED MERIDIAN Energy will press ahead with a plan to lodge resource consents for its hydroelectric development on the lower Waitaki river in late 2002.

Meridian was satisfied the US$4.8M project Aqua represented a fair balance between all the competing interests for the river resource, chief executive Keith Turner said in a statement on 6 June 2002.

‘We are very excited about the proposals for irrigation and have already indicated a substantial investment that we believe will be the catalyst to get the North Otago schemes under way and deliver unique value for the region,’ said Turner.

Environmental assessment reports were currently being released, although some time was needed to study them.

Project Aqua will divert three-quarters of the Waitaki river flow into a 52km canal along its southern side to supply six power stations. The project has been planned for more than a year but Meridian has not been able to buy the land for the canal route.