Salmon farms decision delayed
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has extended the deadline for the final report and decision on whether New Zealand King Salmon can build nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds.
Ms Wilkinson agreed on Monday to extend the deadline for the final report and decision till February 22, as requested by the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry.
The original deadline was December 30, nine months after King Salmon notified its application on March 31.
An spokeswoman for the authority said the draft report and decision were still due before Christmas. These would be published on the Environmental Protection Authority website and sent to interested parties, who could comment on minor or technical aspects.
A section of the Resource Management Act allowed the minister to grant the extension, she said.
King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said he understood the draft report and decision would be issued on December 19.
"We fully understand the reason for the extension and were neutral on whether it was granted or not," he said.
"The board needs to consider massive amounts of evidence and transcripts before them."
King Salmon needed more fish to meet its supply contracts and wanted to get developments going as quickly as possible, but understood there was a process that must be followed, Mr Rosewarne said.
The authority has posted news of the extension on its website.
Dates have slipped throughout the King Salmon application, which attracted 1273 submissions.
The authority extended the original deadline and also the date for further submissions and rebuttal evidence.
The hearing, expected to run for four weeks from August 13, ended on October 18 almost eight weeks after starting on August 27.
King Salmon wants to develop eight new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound, Port Gore, Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel in areas where aquaculture is prohibited.
It has also applied to farm salmon at a site in Pelorus Sound, permitted for mussel farming.
The Marlborough Express