Kakapo Brook win ‘a victory’ for high value high country zones
Fish & Game is hailing as a victory the Kakapo Brook decision by the ECan appointed Independent Hearing Commissioners, to decline water take and use consents in a highly valued North Canterbury catchment.
Fish & Game says the decision is a ‘big win’ for protecting community values in North Canterbury’s upper Waiau and Hope Catchments.
The Kakapo Brook runs through Glynn Wye Station and the joint-applicants - Rooney Holdings Ltd, Rooney Farms Ltd, Kakapo Brook Joint Venture Ltd and MainPower NZ Ltd - proposed to take up to 1600 litres per second, to fill two large on farm storage dams on the Station totalling 1 million cubic metres. The water takes would be used for irrigating 500ha of the high country property and providing hydropower generation for Hanmer Springs and the wider network, on a year round basis.
North Canterbury Fish & Game’s Environmental Advisor, Scott Pearson, welcomes the decision.
“This proposal was contrary to a number of provisions in the Hurunui Waiau Regional River Plan, particularly in relation to the prohibition of any form of damming, water impoundment, and strict water take limitations in the High Value Zone A – Upper Waiau Area.”
“This area is treasured by anglers here and overseas, as it includes internationally recognised trout fishing rivers such as the Hope and Boyle.”
The independent commissioners were not satisfied that the potential adverse effects of the proposal were acceptable, and found the proposal contrary to the Objectives and Policies of the plan. In their decision, they say;
‘In our view the Applicants have not demonstrated that they can adequately avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects of the activities proposed. We are not satisfied that the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor.’
According to Mr Pearson, the decision also sends a clear message that the community values associated with Canterbury’s high country areas are extremely important.
“The increased pressure to intensify extensively grazed properties was seeing irrigation and higher stocking levels creep into the high country, right throughout Canterbury.”
Mr Pearson adds the localised effects on the Kakapo Brook would have seen flat lining of minimum flows for 85% of the year, to feed hydro and irrigation water demands.
“The proposed amount of water in terms of allocation was approximately 10 times what would normally be taken from a small river of this size.”
Effects such as significant dewatering of the mid- section of the river and sustained low flows, increasing algal growths, increased water temperatures, and a reduction in available aquatic habitat, for both native and sports fish were highlighted.
Fish & Game acknowledges the efforts of Hanmer Springs based fishing guide, Serge Bonnafoux in defeating the project. Mr Bonnafoux staunchly defended the recreation and amenity values of the Kakapo Brook and associated fishing waters, in conjunction with evidence from Fish & Game and other environmental parties.
The applicants now have 15 working days to lodge an appeal, with Fish & Game hopeful they would be true to recent undertakings in the media that they “would accept the commissioners' decision.”