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Ashburton Community Water Trust hydro application

Ashburton Community Water Trust hydro application interim consent approval

The Ashburton Community Water Trust (ACWT) and Ashburton District Council have been granted consents to use Rakaia River water to generate electricity, subject to the applicant undertaking a full summer ecological survey.

The survey will cover 14 kilometres of the proposed Rakaia Terrace hydro scheme from Highbank to Barrhill. The commissioners have asked for the survey report in the New Year with a full mitigation plan relating to native vegetation and fauna habitats, prior to a final consents decision.

ACWT proposes to take up to 40 cubic metres of water a second all year round at Highbank, for hydro generation, and discharge it back into the river at Barrhill. The Rakaia River is also subject to a Conservation Order.

The ACWT jointly applied for 40 cumecs of Rakaia River water with Central Plains Water Trust (CPWT). The interim decision notes that any water take and use consents for the hydro scheme will be separate from any considered for CPWT irrigation scheme and that this decision does not prejudice the CPWT hearing outcome. That decision is not anticipated until April or May 2009.

If it obtains consents, Central Plains Water would use its allocation during the irrigation season, whereas ACWT would use the water allocation outside the irrigation season.

The commissioners noted that the Central Plains Water proposal was a much more complex proposal than the ACWT scheme. “The ACWT scheme involves the diversion of up to 40 cumecs between the intake and Barrhill for use for hydro-generation, with the water subsequently returned to the river. In contrast CPWT seeks to take up to 40 cumecs and use it for irrigation. The key difference however, is that the CPWT take has to be considered as part of the overall Central Plains Water scheme, including Waimakariri instream effects, nitrate contamination, groundwater mounding, landowner, mudfish and a raft of other issues, whereas the proposed ACWT take needs to only be considered in the context of its own scheme and the very limited potential effects of that scheme.” (Point 6, page 2 of decision.)

“We are satisfied that the environmental effects of the ACWT proposal are largely unrelated to what CPWT may do and vice versa. The proposed takes are at different locations on opposite sides of the river.” (Point 20, page 4.)

The 10-page decision from hearing commissioners Philip Milne (chair), Andrew Fenemor and Raymond O’Callaghan will be available on the ECan website under What’s New later today or under Resource Consents then Central Plains Water or www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0C5FFA2F-715F-48A1-8E7D-93E563A592E5/0/interimdecisiononacwt_optimised.pdf


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