The Ohau canal near Twizel. Photo by Trevor Nixon.
Farmers wanting more water for irrigation from the upper
Waitaki catchment are working through issues associated with
110 resource consent applications, but the process is taking
longer than expected.
The consent applications are being considered by an
Environment Canterbury (ECan) panel, which adjourned a
hearing which started last September and occupying 13 weeks,
with breaks in between, in May.
The panel sent applicants, including three companies who had
proposed 16 new dairy farms in the Omarama and Ohau areas,
away to prepare proposed conditions for consents in
consultation with ECan officers and submitters. That was
expected to take between four and eight weeks, but the
process has now lasted almost six months.
A week ago, the panel's patience ran out and Mr Rogers asked
all applicants to update it on where the conditions process
stood and when they could be expected.
Some of the submitters - the Department of Conservation,
Forest and Bird and Mackenzie Guardians - have told the panel
they have heard nothing and seen no conditions, but still
wanted to be involved.
Applicants and ECan officers have also told the panel the
process is is taking longer than expected.
That includes the Upper Waitaki Applicant Group, which
represents a consortium of individual applicants which have
70 applications lodged between them.
The group's counsel, Ewan Chapman, said it had had ongoing
discussions with ECan officers, other applicants' advisers
and technical advisers over the consent conditions.
Where possible, this had led to common conditions and a
constant framework for the group's applicants, but some
needed separate conditions to deal with individual
The process had been productive and would result in a more
developed suite of conditions for the panel's consideration.
Specific wording of conditions had been more time consuming
than originally forecast.
ECan consents project leader Anita Warnock, who is overseeing
the upper Waitaki consents process, said some conditions were
ready for the panel and others were with other parties for
Meridian Energy Ltd, which is closely involved because of the
effect new water takes could have on its Waitaki
hydro-generation system, had participated in the process.
Legal counsel Ben Williams said it had reviewed a large
number of conditions, but had yet to receive all final
Complicating the process was the recent decisions on ECan's
Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP) which would have to be
taken into account, he said.