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Env. Min. to call in Waitaki water applications

11 September 2003 Media Statement

Environment Minister to call in Waitaki water applications

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs is calling in applications for the use of water from the Waitaki River, associated lakes, tributaries and groundwater. These include proposals to use water for Project Aqua and irrigation schemes proposed by the Aoraki Water Trust and Irrigation North Otago as well as smaller applications.

"The government announced last week that it will intervene in the process of allocating water in the Waitaki catchment, in order to ensure that local, regional and national needs are considered," Marian Hobbs said.

The intention is to pass special legislation to enable a water allocation framework for the Waitaki to be developed.

"In the meantime, it is appropriate that I call in these applications so that they are not determined before the legislation is passed and before the water allocation framework is completed," Marian Hobbs said.

When considered together, the applications have a significant impact on the Waitaki River and the surrounding environment. Allowing any or all of them to continue to be processed by the local authorities could prejudice the development of the water allocation framework.

The minister has call-in powers under the Resource Management Act. Under this process, the minister assumes responsibility for the processing and determination of resource consents that are of national significance.

The call-in does not affect the current rights of individuals to take water for their domestic needs, fire fighting and for livestock. Such permitted uses will continue. Rights of existing water permit holders, to take and use water, are also unaffected.

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"It is important that this process is fair to all participants and reduces uncertainty. If I did not call in all the relevant applications now, or only called in some, this would be confusing and unclear," Marian Hobbs said.

"I will also consider whether any future applications for water use or any other applications, associated with current or future applications, for the Waitaki should be called-in."

ENDS

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