Upper Waitaki interim consent decisions released

Press Release – Environment Canterbury

Environment Canterbury has released the first two parts of the Upper Waitaki consent application decisions which have been processed by a panel of independent hearing commissioners starting in September 2009.
November 23, 2010

MEDIA STATEMENT
Upper Waitaki interim consent decisions released

Environment Canterbury has released the first two parts of the Upper Waitaki consent application decisions which have been processed by a panel of independent hearing commissioners starting in September 2009.

Part A provides an overview of the key issues for the Upper Waitaki catchment and Part B includes decisions on 18 of the 109 individual resource consent applications. The rest of the individual decisions are expected to be released before Christmas this year.

The nine water consent applications in Part B – which relate to 5349 ha of irrigable land – have been declined by the hearing commissioners. The nine applications for associated land-use have been granted.

The hearing commissioners considered water quality to be the most critical issue in considering whether to grant or decline consents for water takes.

They said the main potential for adverse environmental effects was the enrichment of surface waters due to leaching and/or the transport of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the irrigated pasture through to groundwater, and then to streams, rivers and lakes.

Tangata Whenua values were also taken into account by the hearing commissioners and they concluded effects would be more than minor and would compromise the efforts to restore mahinga kai areas.

Economic effects were considered and the hearing commissioners noted the applicants did take into account the costs of implementing the consents and had some regard to the costs of mitigation measures. The economic benefits were, however, only one issue which needed to be considered.

The interim Part A and Part B decisions are available at:

http://ecan.govt.nz/get-involved/consent-projects/waitaki-consents/upper-waitaki/Pages/decisions.aspx

Background on the Upper Waitaki consents decisions

There were 33 consent applicants in the Upper Waitaki hearing with 109 consent applications being processed under the Resource Management Act (the provisions of the Environment Canterbury Act 2010 have no effect on this process).

Sixty of the applications were for water-takes, 29 for land-use, and 20 for water discharge. The water-take applications relate to around 18,000 ha of irrigable land, and the land-use and discharge applications relate to irrigation activities.

One application (Munro) for a minor water permit which was part of the group hearing was granted in September 2011 ahead of the other decisions. This decision has been appealed.

The applications for the Upper Waitaki Community Irrigation Scheme were heard by the same panel of independent commissioners but were not part of the Upper Waitaki group hearing process. These consents were granted in September 2011 for five years and have been appealed to the Environment Court.

The panel of independent commissioners comprised:
• Paul Rogers (chair, legal expertise)
• Mike Bowden (hydrology)
• Jim Cooke (water quality expertise)
• Edward Ellison (cultural expertise)

A brief timeline

The Upper Waitaki consent hearing began in September 2009 and was adjourned in April 2010. The subsequent work on consent conditions involved the applicants, submitters and Environment Canterbury officers. The hearing commissioners have been working on a decision since February 2011.

Around 60 of the consents included in the Upper Waitaki process date from applications made before 2004. In late 2003 all water permit applications in the Waitaki catchment were called in, including Meridian Energy’s Project Aqua.

In 2004 the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Act was passed to enable the development of a water plan which became operative in July 2006.

Environment Canterbury was then able to begin reprocessing consents once they had been re-notified. Applications for Lower Waitaki consents were processed first.
ENDS

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