Port Gore salmon farm plan canned

NZ King Salmon has abandoned its unused two-year-old resource consent to farm salmon at Melville Cove, Port Gore.

The site, owned by Ngati Apa, would now be used to grow mussels, the Environmental Protection Authority's board of inquiry hearing in Blenheim was told yesterday.

The board of inquiry is hearing an application by King Salmon to set up eight new farms in the Marlborough Sounds, some in areas of the Sounds where marine farming is prohibited.

King Salmon lawyer Derek Nolan tabled four letters at the beginning of yesterday's hearing, including one explaining that the company no longer held an unused resource consent for a salmon farm in the Marlborough Sounds.

The letter, from Gascoigne Wicks partner Brian Fletcher who acted for King Salmon in the attempted purchase of the site from Ngati Apa, says that "ultimately" King Salmon came to the conclusion the 5.5-hectare site could not be developed for salmon because there were only nine years to run on the consent.

It said there was also "uncertainty" over whether a suitable EQS (Environmental quality standard) standard would ultimately apply. The resource consent had tighter environmental limits on the amount of deposits under the farm than King Salmon's other farms because of the low-flow water it is in.

"These concerns were communicated by King Salmon to Ngati Apa, and King Salmon withdrew from the commercial arrangement with Ngati Apa as it no longer considered the site suitable for salmon." The commercial arrangement had been in place since August 2008, and the consent to farm salmon in Port Melville was granted in August 2010.

King Salmon has also abandoned its appeal to the Environment Court against conditions of the consent. An Environment Court spokeswoman confirmed that had happened on Monday. Environment Court judge John Jackson made an order withdrawing the appeal and closed the file with no issues as to costs, she said.

Mr Fletcher's letter said Ngati Apa had entered a long-term lease arrangement to use the site for mussel farming under the original consents.

The Marlborough Express