21 Mar 2010

Canterbury council rejects call for single water authority

1:40 pm on 21 March 2010

The Canterbury Regional Council is rejecting a recommendation that its water strategy be managed by a single authority.

The council has released its response to a review by former National Party MP Wyatt Creech that was sparked by the council's delays in processing freshwater resource consents.

The review was ordered by the Government last year after 10 Canterbury mayors complained about the regional council's processing of resource management applications and its management of natural resources.

The report, issued in February, says freshwater management is the biggest issue facing Canterbury but there are huge frustrations over delays and costs of getting resource consents approved.

The review group said the gap between what needs to be done and the council's ability to act is enormous and unprecedented. About 70% of New Zealand's fresh water is in Canterbury.

The review recommended that councillors be replaced with commissioners and that a new authority to manage the region's water be established.

However, council chief executive Bryan Jenkins says that would bring a third organisation into the mix, making the process even more complicated.