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Minister receives special tribunal report

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for the Environment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

08 February 2006 Media Statement

Minister receives special tribunal report

A special tribunal considering an application to amend the Buller Water Conservation Order has presented its report to the Minister for the Environment.

The tribunal was appointed by the Minister for the Environment in July 2004 to hear and report on the application by MAJAC Trust. The special tribunal held its hearing in Nelson in November 2005.

The application seeks a change to the Buller Water Conservation Order to enable MAJAC Trust to apply for resource consents for a small hydroelectric scheme in the Gowan River.

The special tribunal report recommends that the proposed amendment to the Order be declined.

The tribunal concluded that the Order requires the case for a variation to extend beyond addressing just the protection of the rafting amenity on the Gowan River. It also needed to address other characteristics immediately upstream and downstream that are protected by the Buller Water Conservation Order. The tribunal considered that the case for the variation had not been made.

“I thank the tribunal members for their good work. They have worked efficiently to produce a succinct report,” David Benson-Pope said.

The applicant and submitters now have an opportunity to make a submission to the Environment Court on the report of the special tribunal within 15 days of receiving the report. If the Court receives any submissions it will hold an inquiry and make a recommendation to the Minister. If there are no submissions to the Environment Court in this time the Minister will make a decision.

 A separate application made by the New Zealand and Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game Councils to vary the Buller Water Conservation Order, seeking further protection for the Gowan River to recognise the outstanding fishery the river supports, had been received by the Minister.

The Minister recently wrote to the applicants notifying them of his decision to send their application to a special tribunal. Decisions about the composition of the special tribunal are yet to be made.

ENDS

The report of the Special Tribunal on the application by MAJAC Trust will be available on the Ministry for the Environment website later today: http://www.mfe.govt.nz.

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