Meridian appeals discharge decision

Power company Meridian Energy Ltd has appealed a decision to grant resource consent for a 2000-cow Twizel farm to discharge dairy effluent, because of concern it could impact on operations on the Upper Waitaki hydro-scheme.

Last month an Environment Canterbury (ECan) hearings panel granted consent for D.R. McIntyre to discharge effluent to land via irrigation at his 2600ha dairy farm, near Twizel, but an appeal from Meridian, which had also been joined by Central South Island Fish and Game, has now been made to the Environment Court.

The appeal, now before the court, suggested the hearing decision could set an ''adverse precedent''.

Meridian's original submission on the application for a renewal of the farm's existing consent, had been neutral, providing conditions governing water quality at the nearby Kelland's Pond, the Wairepo Arm of Lake Ruataniwha and Lake Benmore were adhered to.

The primary concerns had been the potential for increased weed growth, which could foul screens.

Nine submissions were received when the consent was notified last July, with just one in support.

However the hearings panel said the farm was a ''well managed and monitored operation'' and mitigation measures were in place to reduce loss of nutrients.

There was also a set-back of ''several hundred'' metres from Kelland's Pond, which was connected to the Wairepo Arm of Lake Ruataniwha by a culvert, and Lake Ruataniwha itself.

Although hearing commissioners said there was ''little doubt'' the farm had contributed to reduced water quality at Kelland's Pond, water quality was still good and there was no justification for the applicant to pay for additional monitoring suggested by Meridian.

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