23 Oct 2008

RMA too weak, say Greens

7:22 pm on 23 October 2008

The Green Party says a decision by planning commissioners to approve 41 water consents against the advice of the Canterbury Regional Council, shows the Resource Management Act is weak.

The water is to be taken from underwater aquifers in the Selwyn-Waimakariri zone which the council considers are in danger of being depleted.

The regional council says it appointed the commissioners, so their views now become its de facto decision.

But Greens co-leader Dr Russel Norman told Morning Report it shows the Resource Management Act needs strengthening.

He also wants a moratorium on further water allocation in Canterbury.

However, the regional council dismisses the idea of a regional moratorium on issuing new water consents.

Chairman Sir Kerry Burke says a regional moratorium would be a blunt instrument. He told Morning Report a targeted approach to the issuing of water consents is needed.

The ruling mirrors an earlier decision in the Selwyn-Rakaia zone, where additional consents were also granted against the wishes of the regional council.

Most of the consents are for new water use, but some are to extend existing rights.

The applicants included a seed company, mushroom and chicken producers individual farmers and the Selwyn Plantation Board.