Salmon bid set to cost $8m
New Zealand King Salmon expects to spend $8 million on its application to develop nine new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, $2m more than budgeted.
King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said so far the company had spent about $5.5 m and expected total costs to rise from $6m to $8m. Half that money would be spent on experts and the rest would be split between its law firm Russell McVeagh and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) hearing process, he said.
"Do we need a Rolls Royce process for something fully reversible?" Mr Rosewarne asked.
Salmon farming was a 100 per cent reversible industry, he said and in a high flow site, if a farm was removed the seabed beneath would return to its original state in fewer than 10 years.
A trial at the company's Forsyth Bay farm in outer Pelorus Sound showed eight years after it was towed away, the site had almost fully recovered, he said.
The application affected only 17 surface hectares of the Marlborough Sounds, Mr Rosewarne said. Its $8m cost was out of scale with its application, when compared with $6m spent on an EPA hearing which in June, approved the $1 billion Transmission Gully roading project in the Wellington region.
Unexpected expenses included paying environmental law firm ChanceryGreen to run information meetings for submitters, attended by King Salmon company representatives and expert witnesses, Mr Rosewarne said. These were held at the request of the EPA board of inquiry that would hear its application, but had not been required before.
Meetings among experts to highlight areas of agreement and dispute had been more thorough and costly than expected, he said.
King Salmon also had to pay for some of its evidence to be reviewed, especially on the effect of farms on the water column from the sea surface to the sea floor, Mr Rosewarne said. This was after it was criticised by experts from opposition group, Sustain Our Sounds.
The hearing was likely to take five rather than three weeks, which would also add to the cost, he said.
Mr Rosewarne criticised Sustain Our Sounds for citing King Salmon expenditure as a reason for seeking $20,000 of public support, when it already had $40,000 of taxpayer money from the Environment Ministry legal assistance fund. King Salmon had provided huge amounts of expert and independent information to the EPA board of inquiry, available to groups like Sustain Our Sounds to use in their submissions, he said.
Sustain Our Sounds chairman Danny Boulton yesterday said the group's call for donations raised amounts from $4000 from one benefactor to a small cheque from a pensioner who said she appreciated the group working to protect the Sounds from more salmon farms.
- The Marlborough Express