Resource consent requests reactivated
The battle for the Hurunui River is back on.
Last year, Hurunui Water Project (HWP) said it would suspend consent applications for its proposed irrigation scheme in a bid to avoid a costly court battle with opponents.
Talks broke down last year and the applications are now being reactivated, project manager Amanda Loeffen said.
That follows the withdrawal of the company's application to adjourn Environment Court appeals against a water conservation order for the Hurunui River.
"It is disappointing because we wanted to be more constructive this year and try and find a solution everybody would be comfortable with," Loeffen said. "We'll reactivate the consent. We don't have another choice really – if we don't keep the resource consent alive then we lose our priority on the water."
HWP wants to build a 75-metre-high dam on the river's south branch and raise Lake Sumner with a weir to irrigate 42,000 hectares of farmland.
Despite some crossover in evidence, Loeffen estimated the consent and conservation order hearings would cost HWP $2 million.
Fish & Game environment officer Tony Hawker said a proposal was put to HWP last year but "they didn't really bring anything to the table".
"I'm not surprised things didn't work out," he said.
"They want to put dams in and we don't think we can mitigate a dam."
The area has also been selected as a pilot for the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. Founded by the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, the strategy is an attempt to solve water woes which split the region on urban-rural and environmental-development lines.
Under the strategy, about 10 zone water-management committees will be established throughout the region, including the Hurunui.
"I'm delighted about it [the pilot]," Hurunui Mayor Garry Jackson said.
"I think it's good for the region ... I just want to get up and run with it."
HWP's consent applications attracted more than 1000 submissions, with about 75 per cent against the plans.
Appeals to the water conservation order will be heard in May.