Canterbury Regional Council is considering inviting public feedback in the battle over water-bottling consents.
Water-bottling firm Cloud Ocean Water has applied to extract water from a 186m deep bore at its Belfast plant and the council has today appointed an independent commissioner to decide if it should be publicly notified.
The Chinese-owned company has the right to take 1.5 billion litres of water a year from a shallow bore at the site.
Taking it from the deeper bore would be a variation on its existing consent.
Christchurch City Council made a submission to the regional council last week, warning that the deep bore could reduce the amount of water available to Christchurch households.
Canterbury Regional Council this morning appointed independent commissioner Richard Fowler QC to oversee the application and decide whether the application is publicly notified, limited notified or non-notified.
The regional council advised in a statement that it decided to appoint the independent commissioner due to "unusual" circumstances.
Cloud Ocean Water's existing consent to use the shallow bore is subject to a judicial review proceeding currently before the Court, relating to alleged issues with the processes undertaken and decisions previously made by regional council staff.
If the decision is not to notify the consent application, Mr Fowler will consider and decide the consent application.
If the decision is to limited notify or to publicly notify the consent application, Mr Fowler will chair a hearing panel to consider and decide the consent application, in conjunction with other hearing commissioners.