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Environment Canterbury will work constructively

March 30, 2010


MEDIA STATEMENT

Environment Canterbury will work constructively to ensure smooth transition following decision on Creech Report

The Chairman of Environment Canterbury, Alec Neill, has said that Environment Canterbury will work constructively with commissioners following today’s government announcement that the council’s elected representatives will be replaced by commissioners from the expected date of May 1, 2010.

The decision follows recommendations made in the Creech Report of February 19, 2010.

“The Environment Minister Nick Smith has in recent weeks has met with Canterbury territorial local authorities where there was strong support in favour of installing commissioners and so it does not come as a surprise. However, we are very disappointed at his decision as we were elected by the people of Canterbury and we believe very strongly in democracy.

“We appreciate that before the Ministers made a decision they took the time to talk to us and to a number of our important stakeholders.

“Councillors have been diligent in the face of uncertainty over recent weeks and we will all continue to work constructively until the commissioners take over, to ensure a smooth transition. I know that our staff will also continue to work professionally to ensure we achieve the best results for Canterbury.”

Cr Neill said the complexity surrounding water management in Canterbury should not be underestimated. “The removal of the council will not alter the challenges presented by the many competing interests for water.

“The additional powers conferred on the commission through the proposed Environment Canterbury Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management Bill will assist with the management of those challenges. Had Councillors had those powers available to them then I am certain that the issues surrounding water could have been resolved more easily by elected representatives.

“Everyone has acknowledged the importance of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy as an initiative that provides the platform for effective and collaborative water management for this region. It was essential that the principles of the strategy were confirmed in the proposed legislation.” He said that the strategy has been praised by a number of Government ministers and the substantial investment in its development must not be wasted. Environment Canterbury has played a pivotal role in promoting this strategy.

Cr Neill said significant progress has been made in a number of other important areas in recent times. This included lifting consent processing timeframes so 90% are now carried out in the required timeframe.

“I am prepared to discuss with Commissioners how the organisation goes forward from here. Canterbury region and its continued prosperity is my greatest concern.”


ENDS


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