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Waitaki Catchment Regional Plan Completed

Friday 30 September 2005

Waitaki Catchment Regional Plan Completed

The Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board has completed the water allocation plan for the Waitaki catchment. The Plan, which was approved by the Board today, will be implemented by the Canterbury Regional Council.

The Plan has been revised by the Board after it considered the 1197 submissions it received on the draft plan, and following hearings in Oamaru and Omarama over a six-week period in June and July.

Board Chairperson, Judge David Sheppard, says the Plan includes objectives to be achieved, policies to achieve these objectives, and rules to direct how water use is to be managed.

“The Plan provides the framework for water allocation in the Waitaki catchment and will guide decision-making on applications for resource consents to use water from the catchment,” says Judge David Sheppard.

The Plan will be implemented by the Canterbury Regional Council and also includes changes to the Otago Regional Council’s water plan for the small part of the catchment that is in the Otago region.

The plan provides for: priority uses of water for stock, domestic use and firefighting; sustaining the environmental values of Waitaki catchment water; allocation of water for various activities including irrigation and electricity generation; and management of the allocation of water, including when the water levels are low.

“Generally the plan will be implemented as applications for resource consents are applied for and processed. Existing consents are generally not affected until they expire and are replaced through a new application.”

“However an exception to this is that the Resource Management Act allows for the regional council to review existing consent conditions to give effect to environmental flow and level regimes set in the Plan. Regional plans can be reviewed by the regional council from time to time but in this case, Canterbury Regional Council cannot review the Waitaki plan for two years after it becomes operative,” says Judge David Sheppard.

The Plan becomes operative in three weeks, unless there is an appeal to the High Court. Any appeal can only be on a point of law. The appeal period for lodging an appeal with the High Court is 15 working days from the day each submitter is notified of the decision.

The plan will be publicly released at noon on Monday 3 October. It will be accompanied by three supporting documents including a document giving the Board’s decisions and reasons for adopting the Plan’s provisions, a document evaluating the Plan’s provisions, and a document containing material referred to in the Plan.

At noon on Monday 3 October, all four documents will be posted on the Waitaki Catchment Allocation Board web pages at www.waitakiboard.mfe.govt.nz. Hard copies will also be available by contacting the Minister for the Environment’s Catchment Waitaki office: freephone 0508 456 987 or by emailing catchment.waitaki@mfe.govt.nz. People who made a submission will be posted a copy of the Board’s decision on Monday.

“Once the plan becomes operative, Canterbury Regional Council can commence processing the applications for resource consents that were held over under the Waitaki Act until the plan was prepared. Any further applications can also be processed under the provisions of the plan,” says Judge Sheppard.

Once the regional plan is operative, the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board will be dissolved.

Background Information

On 9 September 2004 Parliament passed legislation to set up the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board with the task of preparing a regional plan for water allocation in the Waitaki Catchment. When the Bill was originally introduced, Meridian Energy Ltd proposed the $1.2 billion Project Aqua power scheme in the lower Waitaki Valley.

Meridian decided on 29 March 2004 not to proceed with Project Aqua. However that still left competing demands for water in the catchment, and the Government decided to proceed with legislation so an allocation plan could still be prepared.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs appointed the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board on 30 September 2004 to develop the regional plan. The Board has had 12 months to finalise the plan.

The members of the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board are:-

Judge David Sheppard (Chairperson)

From Auckland, Judge Sheppard has had 25 years' professional experience as a judge in planning and resource management cases.

Sheila Watson (Deputy Chair)

From Christchurch, Sheila Watson is a professional environmental manager with 20 years of experience in the field.

Edward Ellison

From Dunedin, Mr Ellison is currently a farmer and a Kaitakawaenga [iwi liaison] advisor to Otago Regional Council.

Dr Nick Brown

From Wanaka, Dr Brown is an economist specialising in resource economics, national and regional impact analyses, regional economics, cost-benefit analysis and development economics.

Claire Mulcock

From Christchurch, Ms Mulcock is a resource management consultant with knowledge of water resources and experience in the agricultural sector.

ENDS


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