Environment Canterbury has released a further nine Upper Waitaki consent application decisions which have been processed by a panel of independent hearing commissioners.
The remaining decisions have been drafted but are not ready for release due to a variety of factors including the quality of evidence received in support of these applications. These details are outlined in the 33rd Minute of Commissioners (pdf 43 kB).
The remaining decisions will be issued as soon as possible in the New Year.
All nine of the latest water consent applications have been granted by the hearing commissioners. The decisions should be read in combination with the hearing commissioner’s Part A decision, which sets out their findings and approaches to various catchment wide issues that are common to multiple applications.
The Part A decisions released on 23 November can be found here.
The hearing commissioners considered water quality to be the most critical issue in considering whether to grant or decline consents for water takes. The impact of approving these applicants on water quality was determined to be minimal or able to be mitigated.
Tangata Whenua values and economic effects were also taken in to account by the hearing commissioners.
The latest decisions, released today (23 December) are available here.
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.