Plan change 7 affects 100 water consents

The historic permits allowed holders to take as much water as needed for irrigation or other...
The historic permits allowed holders to take as much water as needed for irrigation or other purposes with few conditions or limits. They all expired on October 1 this year. Photo: ODT
More than 100 resource consent applications are affected by the Environment Court’s plan change 7 decision, the Otago Regional Council says.

The court decided last month that interim consents to replace expiring water permits should be limited to a term of six years.

At the time, the council said it needed time to assess the implications of the court decision on resource consent applications that were being processed, and on future applications.

Yesterday, council consents manager Joanna Gilroy said the council had contacted every affected applicant twice since the decision was released to advise them of the outcome.

The council had provided a form to make changes to consent applications should applicants wish, she said.

‘‘There are over 100 current resource consent applications in our system that are affected by the plan change 7 decision, as well as any new applications that come in.

‘‘The key areas of any application to be considered following the plan change 7 decision are the consent duration sought, the area of irrigation, volumes of water taken and whether there are existing priorities,’’ Ms Gilroy said.

The council had worked with consultants and stakeholders throughout the plan change process, sharing drafts and information with them, she said.

The council understood any change to a current resource consent application could be a ‘‘tricky process’’ to navigate.

The council encouraged people to contact its consents team if they had any questions or concerns, she said.

The interim consents are a quick fix as many in the region need to replace largely unlimited water-take permits that expired as the council writes new rules for water use around the region - the upcoming land and water plan.

The court decision said the council’s plan change 7 had been substantially rewritten due to submissions, but the relief sought by many to allow for consents for periods of more than six years was not approved.

Farming groups expressed concern over the decision last month.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson said as a result farmers would have trouble getting financial backing for supporting infrastructure due to the uncertainty short-term consents created.

A six-year window is essentially a blink of an eyelid in a farmer’s terms, he said.

Yesterday, Manuherikia Catchment Group chairwoman Anna Gillespie said she understood the number of affected consents was more in the vicinity of 150 consents.

Importantly, some consents had multiple takes, she said.

The Manuherikia Irrigation Co-operative Society had one consent to supply 350 irrigators.

The 100 consents the council was referring to would affect hundreds of water users around the region, she said.

‘‘They’re completely downplaying it by saying it’s only 100 consents,’’ she said.

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