The Commerce Commission has decided not to investigate a complaint against New Zealand King Salmon made by the environmental group Sustain Our Sounds.
NZKS wants to almost treble the number of salmon farms it has in the Marlborough Sounds and has used a public relations campaign to counter the opposition from its opponents, the most vocal of which has been SOS.
The group's lawyer, Sue Grey, complained to the commission a month ago, suggesting that the company had made "misleading and deceptive claims".
The complaint was made under the Fair Trading Act and at the time she lodged it, Ms Grey said although it was unusual, she didn't see it as being too different from the norm.
In a statement today, the commission said it had concluded it was not appropriate to investigate the issues raised by SOS when the application was before an independent board of inquiry established to consider it.
"That body has its own power to test the information that SOS alleges is misleading. There is no need for the commission to intervene in that process."
Today Ms Grey said she wasn't sure that the commission had fully understood her complaint and she had gone back to it with "a couple of queries" since receiving the decision last night.
"The main process is the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry process, but the concern was that if misleading information is put out to the public prior to or during the public submission process, the public may make misinformed submissions, and that won't necessarily be corrected by the EPA process."
SOS was now concentrating on preparing for the board's hearing, Ms Grey said.
NZKS chief executive Grant Rosewarne is in Norway and couldn't be reached this morning. At the time SOS went to the commission, he said he expected the complaint to be thrown out, calling it "another example of a further campaign of misinformation".
The company's application is to be heard by a board of inquiry under the Environmental Protection Authority after Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson deemed it a proposal of national significance. More than 1200 submissions were received by the closing date of May 2, the great majority in opposition.
The board is going through a pre-hearing process, with the hearing to begin on August 13 in Blenheim.
Details of the inquiry process are at epa.govt.nz.
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