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Waitaki catchment commissioner appointed

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Waitaki catchment commissioner appointed to decide on notification status of consent applications

Environment Canterbury has appointed Professor Peter Skelton as a commissioner to decide on the notification status of more than 200 water resource consent applications in the Waitaki catchment.

There are 200-plus applications being processed by Environment Canterbury which were held up by Meridian’s Project Aqua application, since withdrawn, the subsequent calling-in of consents by central Government and the preparation of a statutory plan for the catchment.

The Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan was made fully operative this year, enabling the resource management process to resume in the Waitaki.

The consents relate to water take applications upstream and downstream of the Waitaki Dam. They include the recently lodged applications by Meridian Energy Ltd for its North Bank Tunnel Concept, above the Waitaki Dam, and the proposed Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, below the dam.

In early 2007, Professor Skelton will rule on whether the resource consent applications require public notification or whether they can be processed without notification. Notified consents are likely to be heard by a panel which would include Professor Skelton and likely to take place in the fourth quarter of 2007. The non-notified consents would be decided by Professor Skelton alone in the first quarter of 2007.

ECan Waitaki councillor Dr June Slee welcomed the appointment of Professor Skelton as a commissioner and said as an expert on the Resource Management Act he was eminently qualified for the role. “Professor Skelton has extensive previous experience as an Environment Court judge, which is reassuring for the Waitaki community.”

The Waitaki catchment is the source of most of New Zealand’s hydro-energy generation and the Waitaki is one of Canterbury region’s most significant braided rivers in terms of flora and fauna habitat and fisheries. The Waitaki Plan envisages that the catchment has the potential to provide irrigation water to a wide range of rural land uses.

Ends


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