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Special legislation for Waitaki River catchment

Special legislation for Waitaki River catchment

The government will introduce special legislation for the Waitaki River catchment, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"This legislation will ensure that the best decisions are made about water use in the Waitaki," Marian Hobbs said. "There are a number of applications for water use, including three major ones . In the absence of a water allocation plan for the catchment, these are being considered in a policy vacuum.

"Under the current system there is no guarantee that the national, regional or local benefits of using the Waitaki water will be considered.

"The government is committed to an outcome that meets all needs – economic, social, environmental – and leads to a more strategic approach. We are also committed to working closely with local government and the Waitaki community to develop the best process possible.

"Accordingly I will put the applications on hold, through the call in process, and I will introduce special legislation for the Waitaki catchment to allow for enhanced Resource Management Act processes for the applications."

The legislation will establish an independent statutory body that will develop a water allocation framework for the Waitaki. It will be able to take public submissions and will have extra powers such as the ability to inquire and call for extra evidence when considering those submissions and making its final decision on the framework.

A panel of commissioners will then decide on the applications. The legislation will also reduce time delays associated with appeals to the Environment Court through a focused appeals process.

"This process will separate decisions on the allocation framework from the resource consent applications," Marian Hobbs said. "This will provide transparency and accountability and is consistent with local government practice."

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