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River Management Strategy consultation broadens

Media release
Monday 13 October 2003

River Management Strategy consultation broadens

As part of its ongoing consultation activity, Meridian Energy has written to a range of stakeholders seeking comments about version two of a draft River Management Strategy (RMS) being developed for the lower Waitaki River.

Since the original version of the draft RMS was lodged in May 2003 as part of the Project Aqua resource consent applications, a Working Group has been formed to discuss and revise it. The members of the Group include Meridian Energy plus organisations which have statutory responsibilities for activities in the river and may have to do more to manage the river if Project Aqua is built. These include Environment Canterbury (Rivers Engineering section), the Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand and Fish and Game New Zealand.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu has also been invited to take part in development of the RMS recognising the statutory acknowledgement in the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 of its people’s interest in the Waitaki River, and the requirement under the Resource Management Act to take into account the Treaty of Waitangi, and have regard to kaitiakitanga.

The Working Group believes version two of the RMS provides a strategy for river management that is acceptable in principle. The Working Group is also looking at options for development of structures for administering, funding and implementing the agreed actions.

The draft RMS has been sent by Meridian Energy on behalf of the Working Group to other groups that have expressed an interest in the river. They range from recreational and community groups to local government, Conservation Boards and utilities providers.

The Working Group welcomes written comments or suggestions in regard to the RMS and its development and those interested have four weeks to respond. This does not prevent the Working Group members or their representatives from making a submission on the consent applications if they want to do so.

The Group aims to reach agreement in principle on the RMS and how it will be implemented prior to the commencement of a hearing of the Project Aqua consent application.

The Working Group says that although the development of the RMS does not assume that consents for Project Aqua will be granted, it is targeted to the situation after the granting of consents.

The representatives or nominees of the Working Group will eventually co-ordinate the actions required to implement the River Management Strategy. However the Working Group recognises that such a group could exist, even if there were no Project Aqua.

Media Backgrounder

About the River Management Strategy

The draft River Management Strategy (RMS), as lodged, presented Meridian Energy’s long-term vision for integrated management of the lower Waitaki River.

Through discussions, this how now become the Working Group’s vision.

It recognises the river and river processes are complex and constantly changing so that consents conditions alone cannot ensure the best outcomes are achieved from the mitigation proposed under Project Aqua.

The River Management Strategy:
- describes the values of the river and riverlands
- records issues arising from the diversity of people and groups connected with the river
- sets out a series of principles which should govern the management of the river
- sets objectives for managing the values
- lists the actions that Meridian Energy proposes to carry out or encourage, in working towards achieving those objectives.

It is intended that the details of actions of works that will make up the mitigation and integrated management will be set out in a series of Management Plans guided by the long-term vision of the RMS and taking into account existing obligations for works within the river. These Plans will provide a medium-term framework (setting out what will be done where) within which annual work programmes can be drawn up and implemented.

[END]

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