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Waitaki Catchment Regional Plan Completed

Hon Marian Hobbs
Minister for the Environment

3 October 2005 Media Statement

Waitaki Catchment Regional Plan Completed

The Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Plan was officially handed to Environment Minister Marian Hobbs today by the chair of the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board Judge David Sheppard.

The Plan, developed by the board, provides the framework for allocating water in the Waitaki catchment. It will help guide decision-making on resource consent applications to use water from the catchment.

The government appointed the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board under legislation passed in September last year – giving them 12 months to develop the regional plan.

"Their job was to produce a plan that included rules and policies to direct how water use should be managed in the Waitaki catchment," Marian Hobbs said. "I congratulate and thank them for completing their job and within the 12 month deadline."

The legislation was introduced because the region faced a very large number of water use applications and no regional water plan to guide decision-making. Meridian Energy Ltd's withdrawal of Project Aqua still left competing demands for water in the Waitaki catchment, Marian Hobbs said.

The Board revised the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Plan after considering 1197 submissions on its draft plan, and hearings in Oamaru and Omarama over six-weeks in June and July.

The Plan, to be implemented by the Canterbury Regional Council, 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 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 period for lodging an appeal with the High Court is 15 working days from the day each submitter is notified of the decision.

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

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

The plan will be released publicly at noon today and 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.

Background Information

At noon today 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.

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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