Waitaki irrigator's appeal approved

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

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A Waitaki irrigators collective's consents to take thousands of cubic metres of water from the river have been extended from five to 35 years on appeal.

Judge Jon Jackson issued the Upper Waitaki Community Irrigation Company the consent memorandum this week. In late 2011, an Environment Canterbury-appointed panel granted the company consents to irrigate a 1925ha section south of the river, at a rate up to 1425 litres per second, but only for a five-year duration.

The company appealed the decision to the Environment Court: It argued the consent was a renewal of existing activities, and the five-year duration was not financially viable.

Central South Island Fish and Game chief executive Jay Graybill said the organisation agreed to the request after receiving further information.

"We have previously expressed concern about granting such long-term consents, but this one appears to fall within the limits of the Waitaki Allocation Plan," he said.

A deposition from the company's solicitor said although there was an "over-allocation in the mid-section" of the lower Waitaki, this was not relevant to the section above the dam, where the company would be taking the water.

Upper Waitaki Community Irrigation Company co-director Justin Slee said the original decision as "unbelievable", but was pleased about the resolution.

"It's about time, really. Five years would not have been enough to go to the bank, they would have laughed at us," Mr Slee said.

The company has 62 shareholders.

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- South Canterbury

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