Mining water permits 'not as simple' as first thought

Stephen Woodhead
Stephen Woodhead
The Otago Regional Council (ORC) says the transition of existing mining water permits to modern resource consents was not a ''one size fits all'' approach.

On that basis, not all existing mining permits would be ''automatically'' transitioned to modern resource consents, ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said.

''We think of the 300 or so mining permits left, around 230 of these will be converted to consents,'' Mr Woodhead said, noting that these permits were all across Otago and that ''many hundreds have already been replaced or surrendered''.

He said that while the council had initially encouraged those permit holders to get in early for permit replacement, ''it's important that a deemed permit holder thinking about replacement has a chat to our staff first because a number of factors will influence when you should apply. It's not as simple as we perhaps first conveyed''.

In an interview with Southern Rural Life he said that the important thing is that the ORC is ready to receive and to process deemed permits.

''We are also co-operating fully with Government's investigation into our ability to process the upcoming influx of water permit replacement applications by the 2021 deadline.''

He said the ORC had done a lot of work to ensure they had the processes and people with them to process permits legally and with an understanding of what impact those permits would have on allocation in catchments.

With respect to the Government review he said the team had prioritised central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

''My hope is that it is clear to Peter Skelton that we have made huge strides in meeting this challenge and that everything is in place to ensure our success in doing so.''

Mr Woodhead said that water remained as a clear priority of the ORC, which would invest at least $6million on water programmes this year alone.

''It is community effort and ORC leadership that will allow us to succeed in our water aims.''

-By Brent Melville

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