Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Panel’s recommended changes to Waimakariri River Plan

Commissioners accept hearing panel’s recommended changes to Waimakariri River Regional Plan

Significant changes to the management of the Waimakariri River have been accepted by Environment Canterbury commissioners at today’s council meeting.

The changes were recommended to the council by independent hearing commissioners Bob Batty and Dr Mike Freeman, following the notification of Plan Change 1 to the Waimakariri River Regional Plan in August last year. Around 100 submissions were received with hearings held from April to September this year.

The independent hearing commissioners were only empowered to make recommendations to Environment Canterbury, not to decide the new rules and policies themselves.

Under the Environment Canterbury Act, these decisions can only be appealed by submitters on points of law to the High Court, within 15 days of receiving notification of decisions by mail. These will be posted to submitters from January 10, 2011.

The review of parts of the Waimakariri River Regional Plan, operative since 2004, was brought about by increasing demand for more water for irrigation. One of the largest applicants to use the river’s water, Central Plains Water Ltd, has been granted consents with conditions (some under appeal) in recent months.

Key changes
In the original council-proposed changes, an environmental buffer or “gap” was built into the allocation regime, amounting to 30 cumecs (cubic metres of water per second) to maintain higher river flows.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The hearing commissioners assessed this “gap” requirement under a number of models and instead opted for a one-to-one flow sharing regime for the B-block as sought by a large number of submitters, including Central Plains Water. However, the hearing commissioners reduced the size of the B allocation block from 40 cumecs to 27 cumecs. This block caters to all existing consent holders.

The river’s minimum flow remains at 41 cumecs and the A-block allocation, plus community and stock water supplies, remains at 22 cumecs. Hence for the A-block group to be all extracting, the river has to be running at 63 cumecs at the Old Highway Bridge measuring site. The one-to-one sharing regime means that for every two cumecs of water available in the B-block, one can be allocated to a consent holder and the other stays in the river.

The hearing commissioners agreed that the minimum flow recorder for the river should be moved from the Old Highway Bridge to a site above the main water takes at Otarama.

The recommended flow and allocation regime for the B-block is similar to that granted to Central Plains Water in recent months (bearing in mind that some aspects of their consents are under appeal).

Although the “holiday” rule contained in the appealed Central Plains Water consents has not been adopted, the hearing commissioners said that discretion should be retained to enable the council to impose restrictions on abstractions upstream of the Gorge Bridge. This would protect river flows for the annual Coast-to-Coast multi-sport event, held in February.

“The independent hearing commissioners have done a very thorough job of assessing the pressures on the Waimakariri and we thank the many submitters who gave their time and energy to this process,” said Commissioner Peter Skelton. “These recommendations take into account the changing water management environment under the close-to-operative Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan and the community-driven Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“The hearing commissioners have benefited from the information coming through applications like that of Central Plains Water and the many expert witnesses common to both those applications and this plan change.

“They have considered social, cultural, economic and environmental matters pertinent to the Waimakariri catchment and the greater Christchurch and Central Plains area. We believe the framework they have outlined will protect the river’s natural, cultural, recreational and environmental values and be consistent with the principles of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National Spreading Panic About The Economy

The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Labour: Grant Robertson To Retire From Parliament
Labour List MP and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson will retire from Parliament next month, and later in the year take up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More

Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.