Central Plains Water


Central Plains Water

Central Plains Water is the name given to the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, the Central Plains Water Trust and a company, Central Plains Water Limited, involved with the promotion of a water diversion, damming and water reticulation and irrigation scheme for the Central Plains of Canterbury, New Zealand. The proposed Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme involves diversion of water, the construction of a storage dam, tunnels and a series of canals and water races to supply water for irrigation to an area of 60,000 hectares on the Canterbury Plains. Water will be taken from the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme originated as a feasibility study jointly initiated and funded by Christchurch City Council and Selwyn District Council. The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme is a contentious scheme. It is opposed by community, recreation and environment groups, some city and regional councillors, and some corporate dairying interests. The scheme is supported by Christchurch City Council and Selwyn District Council staff and some councillors, irrigation interests, consultants, farming interests, and more recently, some corporate dairying interests.

cope

Canterbury Regional Council has summarised the scope of the Central Plains Water enhancement scheme as follows; [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water+Trust.htm Central Plains Water Trust] Canterbury Regional Council Resource Consents webpage, retrieved 6 October 2007.]

'The applicants propose to irrigate 60,000 hectares of land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers from the Malvern foothills to State Highway One. Water will be abstracted at a rate of up to 40 cumecs per second from two points on the Waimakariri River and one point on the Rakaia River. The water will be irrigated directly from the river and via a storage system. The proposal includes a 55 metre high storage dam within the Waianiwaniwa Valley and associated land use applications for works within watercourses.'
The proposed dam would be about 2 kilometres in length, with a maximum height of 55 metres, with a base width of about 250 metres, and 10 m wide crest, with a capacity of 280 million cubic metres. The dam would be 1.5 kilometres north east of the town of Coalgate. [URS (2006), Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf06/Section3.pdf Section 3, page 3.18] , Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, 42156547.66140 AEE R001C, by URS New Zealand Limited.] The two rivers and the reservoir would be connected by a headrace canal, 53 kilometres in length, 5 metres deep and 30 metres wide (40-50 metres including embankments). [URS (2006), Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf06/Section3.pdf Section 3, page 3.24] , Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, 42156547.66140 AEE R001C, by URS New Zealand Limited.] Water would be delivered to farmers via 460 kilometres of water races, ranging in width from 14 to 27 metres, including the embankments. [ [http://cpw.org.nz/pdf06/Section3.pdf Section 3 Description of the Proposed Activities] , pages 3-36 to 3-50, URS (2006), Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, Project Manager; Walter Lewthwaite, Project Director; Cliff Tipler, Authors; Mark Mabin, Cliff Tipler, Walter Lewthwaite, Klaus Ohlbock, Daniel Murray, Matthew Gardner, 42156547.66140 AEE R001C, by URS New Zealand Limited.]

A brief history

In 1991, Christchurch City Council and the Selwyn District Council, in their annual planning process, agree on a feasibility study on irrigation of the Central Plains. The two councils provide a budget and set up a joint steering committee. In 2000, the steering committee contracts consulting firm URS New Zealand Limited to prepare a scoping report. In late 2001, the steering committee applies for resource consent to take 40 cumecs of water from the Rakaia River and the Waimakariri River. In January 2002, the steering committee releases the feasibility study and seeks to continue the project.

In 2003, the Central Plains Water Trust was set up to apply for resource consents, and the Trust establishes a company, Central Plains Water Limited, to raise funds from farmers via a share subscription. In 2004 Central Plains Water Limited issued a share prospectus and the share subscription is over-subscribed. In November 2005, further consent applications for land and water use were lodged with Canterbury Regional Council and Central Plains Water Limited becomes a 'requiring authority'. In June 2006, further consent applications for land use and a notice of requirement, the precursor to the use of the Public Works Act to compulsorily acquire land, are lodged with Selwyn District Council.

In July 2007, the trustees of Central Plains Water Trust informed Christchurch City Council that they had run out of money to fund the lawyers and consultants needed for the consent and notice of requirement hearings. Christchurch City Council gave approval for Central Plains Water Limited to borrow up to $4.8 million from corporate dairy farmer Dairy Holdings Limited. The hearing to decide the resource consent applications and submissions and the notice of requirement commenced on 25 February 2008.

upporters

The Central Plains Water enhancement scheme has had a small but influential group of supporters, some of whom have been involved as steering committee members, trustees and company directors. The supporters have included development-minded council politicians, council staff with water engineering backgrounds, directors of council-owned companies, farmer representatives and consultants. The advancement of the scheme appears to have coincided with career moves and business interests of some of these supporters.

The initial membership of Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee consisted of Councillor Pat Harrow (Christchurch City Council) and Councillors Christiansen and Wild (Selwyn District Council) [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/2000/February/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsIrrigationSteeringCommittee.pdf Report of Central Plains Irrigation Steering Committee] to Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee, 14 February 2000, retrieved 1 October 2007.] and Doug Marsh, Jack Searle, John Donkers, Willie Palmer and Doug Catherwood. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/2000/April/MinutesAP24March2000.pdf Minutes of a meeting of the Christchurch City Council held on Friday 24 March 2000] The appointments had already been approved on 13 March 2000 by the Strategy and Resources Committee [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/2000/March/StrategyandResources/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancementSteeringCommitteeMembership.pdf Central plains water enhancement steering committee: membership] . Report of Allan Watson to the Strategy and Resources Committee.] Christchurch City councillor Denis O'Rourke was soon added and Doug Marsh became chairperson. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/council/agendas/2000/July/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancement-SteeringCommitteeProgressReport.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement: Steering Committee Progress Report] By Allan Watson to the Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee Agenda Monday 17 July 2000.]

Doug Marsh is now the Chairperson of the Central Plains Water Trust and a director of Central Plains Water Limited. He describes himself as a "Christchurch-based professional (company) director" [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/trust.htm Trustees - Doug Marsh (Chairperson)] , Central Plains Water Trust website, retrieved 5 November 2007.] Doug Marsh appears to specialise in council-owned companies. Doug Marsh is also the Chairman of the board of the Directors of the Selwyn Plantation Board Ltd, the Chairman of Plains Laminates Ltd, Chairman of the Canterbury A & P Board, Chairman of Southern Cross Engineering Holdings Ltd, a Director of City Care Ltd, a Director of Electricity Ashburton Ltd and a Director of Hindin Communications Ltd [ [http://www.spbl.co.nz/AnnualReports/Selwyn%20Plantation%20Report%2004.pdf Annual Report of Selwyn Plantation Board 2004] ] Denis O'Rourke and Doug Catherwood, who were two of the original members of the steering committee, are now Trustees of the Central Plains Water Trust. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/trust.htm Trustees] , Central Plains Water Trust website, retrieved 5 November 2007.]

Allan Watson, as the Christchurch City Council Water Services Manager, [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/MediaReleases/1999/waterupdate.asp Update on Christchurch’s Water Supply Situation] , Media Release, 21 January 1999, Christchurch City Council, retrieved 3 February 2008.] had a very important role. Watson wrote most of the reports submitted to the Christchurch City Council strategy and resources committee between late 1999 and 2003. Watson wrote the initial report to the Christchurch City Council strategy and resources committee that set up the Central Plains joint steering committee. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/1999/September/StrategyResources/index.asp Minutes of the Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee] 13 September 1999.] Watson wrote the crucial report in February 2002 that recommended that the scheme be considered feasible and that the role of the steering committee be continued. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Agendas/2002/February/StrategyFinance/SuppCentralPlainsWaterEnhancementSteeringCommitteeApprovalandFundingforProjectContinuation.pdf Central Plains Water enhancement steering committee - approval and funding for project continuation] 18 February 2002.] Watson had previously been the Malvern County Engineer for 10 years. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf/R980A-01.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement application to the Canterbury Economic Development Fund] , Prepared by Cliff Tipler, Stuart Ford, Eddie Thomas, Allan Watson, Willie Palmer, Prepared for Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee, Selwyn District Council Council and Christchurch City Council, c/- Private Bag 1, Leeston, 5 July 2002, p 6-2.] Allan Watson now works for the consulting firm GHD [ [http://myjobspace.co.nz/97343 My Job Space GHD Civil Draftsperson] 'GHD is one of the largest multi-disciplinary management, engineering, environmental, planning and design organizations in Australasia, employing over 400 people throughout New Zealand and over 5,000 globally', Looking for Civil Draftsperson, Apply Before: 14 Oct 07, Date Listed: 14 Sep 07, retrieved 10 October 2007.] and he has publicly represented GHD as the project managers for the Central Plains Water Enhancement scheme. [ [http://www.sustainablechristchurch.org.nz/newsletter/socnewsletteroctober2006 Sustainable Otautahi-Christchurch Newsletter] , Volume 1 No 8 October 2006, retrieved 10 October 2007.]

In 2000, Walter Lewthwaite was one of the original Christchurch City Council employees supporting the joint Steering Committee. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/council/agendas/2000/July/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancement-SteeringCommitteeProgressReport.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement: Steering Committee Progress Report] By Allan Watson to the Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee Agenda Monday 17 July 2000.] Lewthwaite had 30 years experience in water engineering and 14 years experience in managing irrigation projects. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf/R980A-01.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement application to the Canterbury Economic Development Fund] , Prepared by Cliff Tipler, Stuart Ford, Eddie Thomas, Allan Watson, Willie Palmer. Authorised by Cliff Tipler, URS New Zealand Limited, Prepared for Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee, Selwyn District Council Council and Christchurch City Council, c/- Private Bag 1, Leeston, 5 July 2002, p 6-2] In November 2005, Lewthwaite was a Senior Environmental Engineer employed by URS New Zealand Limited, and the project manager and co-author of the application for resource consents lodged with Canterbury Regional Council. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf/AEE%20Central%20Plains%20ECan%20Applications%20Sections%201-3.pdf Assessment of Environmental Effects] for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council by Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 November 2005, Project Manager; Walter Lewthwaite, Project Director; Cliff Tipler, Authors; Mark Mabin, Cliff Tipler, Walter Lewthwaite, Klaus Ohlbock, Daniel Murray, 42156547.66140AEE R001B, Reference:4215654766140R001B, URS New Zealand Limited.] By June 2006, Lewthwaite was an Associate of URS New Zealand Limited. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf06/Table%20of%20contents.pdf URS (2006), Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, Table of Contents] , Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, Project Manager; Walter Lewthwaite, Project Director; Cliff Tipler, Authors; Mark Mabin, Cliff Tipler, Walter Lewthwaite, Klaus Ohlbock, Daniel Murray, Matthew Gardner, 42156547.66140 AEE R001C, by URS New Zealand Limited.] In September 2006, Lewthwaite also prepared information to support the applications to Selwyn District Council. [ [http://www.selwyn.govt.nz/cpw/applications/No%2053.%20Hazardous%20substances%20assessment.pdf Hazardous substances assessment] , Memorandum, Date: 8 September 2006, To Selwyn District Council, c/o Nick Boyes, Resource Management Group Ltd, From Walter Lewthwaite (URS), Jeremy Phillips (Urbis), Subject: Central Plains Water; Request for further information on applications for notice of requirement and resource consents: and [http://www.selwyn.govt.nz/cpw/applications/No%2056.%20Transport%20statement%20inc%20river%20access.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Transport Statement] URS New Zealand Limited, Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, by Walter Lewthwaite, Cliff Tipler, Andrew Whaley. retrieved 29 October 2007.]

Opponents

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme is opposed by farmers and community, recreation and environment groups. Opponents include;
* individual farmers such as Sheffield Valley farmer Marty Lucas who will lose more than 30% of his property. [ [http://www.farmersweekly.co.nz/article/7143.html Hopes drowned by water canal scheme] , The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, Opinion, 10 September 2007, retrieved 7 January 2008.]
*the Malvern Hills Protection Society formerly the 'Dam Action Group',
* the Water Rights Trust, [ [http://www.capella.co.nz/sites/waterrightstrust.org.nz/files//The_need_for_leadership_Press_Sept_2007.pdf The need for leadership] Murray Rogers, [http://www.waterrightstrust.org.nz/ The Water Rights Trust] , Opinion, The Press, 12 Sept 2007.]
* the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association, [ [http://rivers.org.nz/media/NZRCA_CPW_20070606.pdf 'Council-backed irrigation scheme has uncertain ramifications'] , Press Release, 8 June 2007, New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association, retrieved 1 October 2007. See also [http://rivers.org.nz/article/save-waimakariri Save the Waimakariri] , 'About Central Plains Water - A rapacious scheme', retrieved 1 October 2007.]
* the Christchurch-based White Water Canoe Club, [ [http://www.whitewater.org.nz/CPWE_Info.php 'The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme (CPWE)'] Web page of The White Water Canoe Club, retrieved 1 October 2007.]
* the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, [ [http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/conservation/freshwater/plainlyunsustainable.asp 'Plainly Unsustainable - The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme'] , Forest and Bird, August 2003, retrieved 1 October 2007]
* the Fish and Game Council of New Zealand, [ [http://www.fishandgame.org.nz/Site/Regions/NorthCanterbury/fishingNews/CPW.aspx 'Central Plains Water – What you need to know'] ,July 2006, Fish and Game Council of New Zealand web site, retrieved 1 October 2007] and,
* the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, [ [http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR10910.html 'Pull plug on Canterbury water plan'] Press Release, Nandor Tanczos MP, Green Party Environment Spokesperson, 5th June 2007, retrieved 1 October 2007.] Between 1,192 and 1,316 of public submitters oppose the 64 notified consent applications lodged with Canterbury Regional Council and between 153 and 172 submissions are in support. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water/Background.htm Central Plains Water Background] , Canterbury Regional Council web page, retrieved 21 December 2007.] The range of numbers of submitters given is presumably due to the some of the submissions specifying some specific consent applications rather than all of the applications included in the proposal.

Costs

The estimated construction costs of the scheme have doubled since the 2002 'feasibility' study and have increased by 500% since the first scoping study.

In December 2000, the initial scoping study estimated the total cost of the scheme to be $NZ120 million or $1,190.48 per hectare irrigated. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf/13DecNewsRelease.pdf Water Enhancement Could Create 4,000 New Jobs in Canterbury] , Press Release, 13 December 2000, Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee, retrieved December 2007.]

By September 2001, the estimated scheme cost was $NZ201.7 million or $2,400 per hectare irrigated. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/council/agendas/2001/September/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancementSteeringCommitteeQuarterlyReport.pdf Quarterly Report to Strategy and Resources Committee] , Author; Allan Watson, Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee, 17 September 2001.]

In February 2002, when Christchurch City Council and Selwyn District Council were presented with the feasibility study, the estimated scheme cost was $NZ235 million for 84,000 hectares or $2,798 per hectare irrigated. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Agendas/2002/February/StrategyFinance/Clause12Attachment.pdf Central Plains Water Steering Committee Report on Feasibility Study] , para 4.5, page 10, 31 pages, **Embargoed until 10:30 am, Thursday 7 February 2002**]

At 1 April 2004, the estimated scheme cost was $NZ372 million for 60,000 hectares or $6,200 per hectare irrigated. [Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, 42156547.66140AEE R001C, URS New Zealand Limited. p 255.]

In January 2006, Central Plains Water Limited director John Donkers stated that the total cost was $NZ367 million for 60,000 hectares or $NZ6,117 per hectare. [ [http://www.agscience.org.nz/PDF/agscience-24web.pdf More Than Just An Irrigation Scheme] John Donkers, AgScience Issue 24, January 2006, The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science Inc., ISSN 1175-3927.]

In December 2007, the estimate of the total cost of the scheme appeared to be $6,826 per hectare irrigated. [Malvern Hills Protection Society website [http://www.stopthedam.org.nz/Submissionprocess.htm Frequently asked Questions] "According to the latest CPW document on economics: Economic Impact and Cost Benefit Assessment Central Plains Irrigation Scheme May 2007, prepared by Philip Donnelly, the updated total off farm, on farm expenditure is estimated at $682m. The scheme's capital costs are estimated as follows: * Off-farm works $6,826/ha (water to the gate)..."]

Oddly, the Central Plains Water Limited website states that the total scheme cost is $NZ350 million, an estimate that is likely to be three years out of date. [Central Plains Water Limited website [http://cpwl.co.nz/benefits/economic-benefits.html Economic Benefits] "With a current estimated construction cost of $350 million, the proposed CPW scheme will be one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the South Island", retrieved 13 December 2007.]

On 19 February 2008, the evidence of Walter Lewthwaite, one of the principal engineering witnesses for Central Plains Water Trust, became available from the Canterbury Regional Council website. Lewthwaite states that in early 2007 he compiled and supplied an estimate of the total scheme cost to Mr Donnelly (the economist) and Mr MacFarlane (the farm management consultant) for their use in providing the economic analysis. The estimate was $NZ409.6 million for a scheme area of 60,000 hectares, or $6,826 per hectare irrigated. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/F7E394A7-9AD4-4C51-AEED-C6E5F9E657F8/0/10Walter_James_Lewthwaite__BOE__31_1_08_final.pdf Brief of evidence of Walter James Lewthwaite] , dated 31 January 2008, paragraph 260, retrieved 2 March 2008.]

The feasibility study stage

The constitution and terms of reference for the Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee was approved on 14 February 2000. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/2000/February/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsIrrigationSteeringCommittee.pdf Report of Central Plains Irrigation Steering Committee] to Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee, 14 February 2000, retrieved 1 October 2007.] The terms of reference had these two objectives:


* to execute feasibility studies into the viability and practicality of water enhancement schemes in the Central Plains area,..
* is to undertake feasibility studies for the Central Plains area sufficiently detailed to allow decisions on the advisability of proceeding to resource consent applications and eventual scheme implementation.
The feasibility studies also had a required level of detail:
The level of detail of these studies shall be sufficient to allow decisions to be made by the Councils on the advisability of proceeding to resource consent applications and scheme implementation. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/council/proceedings/2000/february/StrategyResources/Clause9Attachment.pdf Constitution and Terms of Reference] of the Central Plains Water Enhancement Special joint committee.]

By February 2001, the steering committee had identified 27 tasks that would be necessary to complete the feasibility study. The list of tasks is comprehensive; it included the assessment of economic effects, benefits, environmental effects, social effects, cultural effects, risks, planning, land accessibility, and environmental and technical feasibility, and consentability. Item 23 was specifically entitled 'Land Accessibility'. [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Proceedings/2001/March/Minutes22February2001.pdf Supplementary report by the Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee] , 22 February 2001, Report by Allan Watson to Strategy and Resources Committee.]

On 11 February 2002 the Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee presented the URS feasibility report and their own report to a joint meeting of the two 'parent' Councils. On 18 February 2002 the reports were presented to the Strategy and Finance committee of the Christchurch City Council. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Agendas/2002/February/StrategyFinance/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancementSteeringCommitteeQuarterlyReport.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee Quarterly Report] to Strategy and Finance committee, 18 February 2002.] The conclusion of the URS feasibility study was stated fairly firmly; [ [http://www.selwyn.govt.nz/cpw/backgrounders/No%2012.%20Scheme%20feasibility%20study%20(Jan%2002).pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement Feasibility Study] , Prepared for Central Plains Water Enhancement Committee, Selwyn District Council Council and Christchurch City Council, 31 January 2002, URS New Zealand Ltd, Prepared by Gavin Hulley, David Blackmore, Clive Anderson, Brian Adams, Allen Ingles, John Bright, Gordon Glova, Nick Taylor, David O'Connell, Brett Gamble, Authorised by Cliff Tipler. Conclusion; page 9.14.]

"that a water enhancement scheme for the Central Plains can be built, is affordable, will have effects that can be mitigated, and is therefore feasible"
The Steering Committee's conclusion was much less firm.
"the affordability, bankability and consentability of the proposed scheme has been proved to a degree sufficient to give the Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Councils confidence to proceed with the project to the next stage."
The Steering Committee had not provided a full conclusion on a number of issues from the list of 27 feasibility study tasks. They had instead simply moved the resolution of a number of the important issues from the feasibility study stage to a new stage to be called 'concept refinement'. The issues to be dealt with later were; [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/Agendas/2002/February/StrategyFinance/Clause12Attachment.pdf Central Plains Water Steering Committee Report on Feasibility Study] , 31 pages, **Embargoed until 10:30 am, Thursday 7 February 2002**]
* more technical investigations
* the scheme's ownership structure
* how to acquire land for dams and races
* the mitigation of social, environmental and cultural effects.

Court actions with other competing abstractors

In late 2006, the Central Plains Water Trust suffered a setback in terms of the 'priority' of the unprocessed 2001 application to take water from the Waimakariri River.

On 28 January 2005, Ngāi Tahu Properties Limited had applied for competing resource consents to take 3.96 cumecs of water from the Waimakariri River and use it for irrigation of 5,700 hectares of land to the north of the Waimakariri River. On 17 September 2005 the Ngai Tahu applications were publicly notified. A hearing before independent commissioners was held in February 2006. [ [http://www.watere.org.nz/NR/rdonlyres/52E318FC-A5A8-4DBB-A178-6FFCEB4EF5C8/0/ngaidecision.pdf Ngai Tahu Properties Limited] - Decision by Commissioners Philip Milne and Dr Brent Cowie, 21 July 2006.] On 26 and 27 June 2006, Ngāi Tahu Properties Limited sought a declaration from the Environment Court that their application to take water from the Waimakariri River had 'priority' over the 2001 CPWT application and therefore could be granted before the CPWT application.

On 22 August 2006, the Environment Court released a decision that Ngāi Tahu Properties Limited had priority to the remaining 'A' allocation block of water from the Waimakariri River over the Central Plains Water Trust application. [ [http://www.watere.org.nz/NR/rdonlyres/B25AB4D0-210C-457F-BF57-6A28705195A6/0/NgaiTahuDecision.pdf Ngai Tahu Property Limited] , Decision No.c104/2006, Principal Environment Judge R J Bollard.]

The Central Plains Water Trust then appealed the decision to the High Court on the grounds that as they had applied first their priority to the water should be upheld, in spite of the fact that a decision would be some time in the future. The High Court agreed with the Environment Court that priority to a limited resource went to the applications that were ready to be 'notifiable' first, not the applicant who applied first. That decision confirmed that Ngāi Tahu Properties Limited would be able to take water under their consents from the Waimakariri River at a more optimal minimum flow than any later consent granted to Central Plains Water Trust. [ [http://www.nzlii.org/cgi-bin/sinodisp/nz/cases/NZHC/2006/1482.html Central Plains Water Trust v Ngai Tahu Properties Limited and anor] HC CHCH CIV 2006-409-2116 [2006] NZHC 1482 (1 December 2006), In the High Court Of New Zealand Christchurch Registry CIV 2006-409-2116.]

However, Central Plains Water Trust appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal and the case was heard on 28 February 2008. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0909B178-D842-4C2D-AC5D-E6E49D0F78AE/0/CPWOpeningLegalSubmissionsweb.pdf Legal submissions on behalf of Central Plains Water Trust and Central Plains Water Limited] , paragraphs 71 & 72, Ed Wylie Q.C., K.G. Smith & R.M. Dunningham, dated 25 February 2008, retrieved 28 February 2008.] On 19 March 2008, the Court of Appeal released a majority decision, that reversed the Environment Court and High Court decisions and awarded priority to Central Plains Water Trust. Justice Robertson gave a dissenting minority opinion that without the full information, the original CPW application had not been ready for notification in 2001. [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/4445749a19753.html CPW wins rights to Waimakariri water] , By Warren Gamble, The Press, Thursday, 20 March 2008, retrieved 22 March 2008.]

In early 2007, the Central Plains Water Trust and the Ashburton Community Water Trust went to the Environment Court for a declaration that their 2001 consent application for water from the Rakaia River had priority over the consent application made by dairying company Synlait (Robindale) Dairies. [ [http://www.irrigationnz.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96&Itemid=2 CPW pursues Rakaia rights] Irrigation New Zealand website, 28 March 2007, retrieved 3 October 2007]

In May 2007, the Environment Court ruled the Central Plains Water Trust application had priority over the Synlait application. Synlait Director Ben Dingle said that the decision was being appealed to the High Court. [ [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411415/1149727 Synlait to appeal water take ruling] TVNZ News website, May 25 2007, retrieved 3 October 2007.] The High Court heard this appeal on 23 and 24 October 2007. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0909B178-D842-4C2D-AC5D-E6E49D0F78AE/0/CPWOpeningLegalSubmissionsweb.pdf Legal submissions on behalf of Central Plains Water Trust Central Plains Water Limited] , paragraph 76, Ed Wylie Q.C., K.G. Smith & R.M. Dunningham, dated 25 February 2008, retrieved 28 February 2008.] On 13 March 2008, the High Court released its decision to uphold the appeal and to award priority to Synlait. Central Plains Water Limited announced it would lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal. [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10497936 Central Plains Water scheme given priority] , The New Zealand Herald, 11:42AM Thursday March 13, 2008, retrieved 13 March 2008.]

The corporate dairying connection

In May 2007, confidential minutes from the March board meeting of Central Plains Water Limited were leaked to media. The minutes stated that the councils (Christchurch and Selwyn District) must agree to a 'bail out' loan or the scheme would be 'killed'. Central Plains Water later confirmed that the corporate dairy farming company, Dairy Holdings Limited, was prepared to offer a large loan to the scheme. [CPW scheme sails into turbulent waters, by Beck Eleven, The Press, 6 June 2007, viewed 21 October 2007.] Dairy Holdings Limited owns 57 dairy farms and is owned by Timaru millionaire Allan Hubbard [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatustandard/4272105a6410.html Dairy Holdings accepts $30m offer] , By Tina Law, The Press, 14 November 2007, retrieved 26 December 2007.] and Fonterra board member Colin Armer. [ [http://www.fonterra.com/wps/wcm/connect/fonterracom/fonterra.com/Our+Business/Fonterra+at+a+Glance/Board+of+Directors/ View Full Profile Colin Armer] , Fonterra website, retrieved 26 December 2007.]

On 5 June 2007, Christchurch City Council was formally informed that Central Plains Water Limited had 'a shortfall of $NZ1 million' and had run out of money needed to pay for the expenses of the impending hearings on the applications for the various resource consents. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/proceedings/2007/June/CnclCover5thExtraordinary/CentralPlainsWaterTrust.pdf 'Central Plains Water Trust'] , Author: Peter Mitchell, Report for the Christchurch City Council agenda Extraordinary Meeting, Tuesday 5 June 2007, at 3pm in the Council Chamber, Civic Offices.]

On 7 June 2007, the Christchurch City Council authorised two Council general managers to approve loan agreements for CPWL to borrow up to a maximum of $4.8 million, subject to the Central Plains Water Trust continuing to 'own' the resource consents, as required by the April 2003 Memorandum of Understanding. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/proceedings/2007/June/CnclCover14th/councilminutes7june2007.pdf Minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the Christchurch City Council] , held at 3pm on Tuesday 5 June 2007 and (meantime having been adjourned) reconvened at 11am on Thursday 7 June 2007, public excluded.]

The Malvern Hills Protection Society questioned whether the Central Plains resource consent applications had been offered as security for the $NZ4.8million loan and whether such a loan would breach the 2004 CPW Memorandum of Agreement, which forbids transferring or assigning its interest in the resource consents. ['Outrage over Central Plains Water loan agreement', Media Release, Malvern Hills Protection Society Inc., 18 July 2007, 2 pages.] Similarly, Ben Dingle, a director of the competing dairying company, Synlait, also questioned the community benefit of the Central Plains project, as the main benefits of irrigation schemes (increased land values and higher-value land-uses) flow to the landowners who have access to the water. [ [http://www.dominion.co.nz/thepress/4112534a13135.html Fights and rights over Canterbury's water] , by Peter Luke, The Press, 30 June 2007, retrieved 9 October 2007]

A report to the Christchurch City Council meeting of 13 December 2007 gives the details of the final loan arrangements. On 19 October 2007, two Council general managers signed the loan agreement with Dairy Holdings Limited. The amount initially borrowed from Dairy Holdings Limited is $NZ1.7 million out of a maximum of $4.8 million. The law firm Anthony Harper had certified that the loan was not contrary to the Memorandum of Agreement as the resource consent applications were not used as security. However, the loan agreement grants a sub-licence from CPWL to Dairy Holdings Limited to use the CPW water consents by taking water for irrigation from the Rakaia River. The sub-licence will start from the date the consents are granted to the date that the whole scheme is operational. [ [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Council/proceedings/2007/December/CnclCover13th/CentralPlains%20Water.pdf 'Item 5. Central Plains Water Trust issues] ', Report prepared for the Christchurch City Council meeting of 13 December 2007, Author: Peter Mitchell, Officer responsible: General Manager Regulation and Democracy Services.]

The Christchurch City councillors, however, voted eight to five not to accept the report. [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/4324318a19753.html Council opinion on Central Plains Water changes] , By Charlie Gates, The Press, Saturday, 15 December 2007, retrieved 21 December 2007.]

A resource consent is specifically declared by the Resource Management Act 1991 not to be real or personal property. [Section 122(1) "Resource Management Act" 1991 (New Zealand)] Resource consents are not 'owned'; they are 'held' by 'consent holders'. [The "Resource Management Act" 1991 (New Zealand) specifically refers to 'consent holders'. See Sections 120(1)(a), 122, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 132, 136, and 138.]

The Central Plains Water Trust applications for resource consents may not have been technically used as security for the loan from Dairy Holdings Limited. However, the Christchurch City Council report clarifies that Dairy Holdings Limited, will now get the benefit of the first use of water from the Rakaia River, under the loan arrangement. That benefit will flow from the date the consents are granted, which will be some years before any of the 'ordinary' farmer shareholders in CPWL receive water, once the full scheme is constructed.

The concept of guaranteed public 'ownership' of the resource consents by Central Plains Water Trust, is somewhat of a fiction, given that a private company, Central Plains Water Limited, has an exclusive licence to operate the consents to take and use water for irrigation, and particularly given that Central Plains Water Limited has already granted a sublicence for the Rakaia River water to Dairy Holdings Limited.

Local government elections October 2007

The Central Plains Water enhancement scheme was the second most important issue in the 2007 Christchurch local government elections, according to a poll of 320 people commissioned by the Christchurch newspaper The Press. [Parker leads but race still open. 'The Press', Christchurch edition, page A3, 26 September 2007.]

Bob Parker, who became the new Mayor of Christchurch, favours allowing the Central Plains Water scheme to proceed through the hearings into the resource consent applications. ['The Press', 26 September 2007, ibid.]

Unsuccessful mayoral candidate, Megan Woods, did not support the Central Plains Water scheme. [ [http://www.megan4mayor.com/policies/central_plains_water.php Central Plains Water (CPW) Scheme] on Megan Woods' website, retrieved 7 October 2007.]

Sally Buck, a Christchurch City Councillor in the Fendalton Waimairi Ward, strongly opposed the Central Plains Water scheme. [ [http://www.sallybuck.co.nz/cpw.htm. www.sallybuck.co.nz] , retrieved 3 October 2007.]

Four new regional councillors elected to Canterbury Regional Council oppose the Central Plains Water scheme. The four are: David Sutherland and Rik Tindall, who stood as "Save Our Water" candidates, and independent candidates Jane Demeter and Eugenie Sage. [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/4237557a6009.html Water fears change ECan, Woods out] By Paul Gorman, The Press, Monday, 15 October 2007, retrieved 15 October 2007.]

Richard Budd, a long-serving regional councillor, who had been a paid consultation facilitator for Central Plains Water, [ [http://archived.ccc.govt.nz/council/agendas/2000/July/StrategyResources/CentralPlainsWaterEnhancement-SteeringCommitteeProgressReport.pdf Central Plains Water Enhancement: Steering Committee Progress Report] By Allan Watson to the Christchurch City Council Strategy and Resources Committee Agenda Monday 17 July 2000.] was voted out of the Christchurch East ward in favour of Sutherland and Tindall. [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/4236526a24175.html Shock defeats shake up ECan factions] By Joanna Norris, The Press, 13 October 2007, retrieved 17 October 2007.]

Defeated regional councillor Elizabeth Cunningham stated that it is unlikely that Central Plains Water scheme can be stopped by the new councillors as it is still proceeding to resource consent hearings and that the new councillors will have little influence on that process. [ [http://www.fencepost.com/news/detail.jhtml;jsessionid=K3NJXHMHM0LECCTTIYJCFEQKONDBKIV0?ElementId=/news/repository/20071015_125331_Canterbury_Water_Scheme_Opposition.xml Canterbury Water Scheme Opposition] , Fencepost.com News, 15 October 2007, retrieved 1 November 2007.]

Environmental impacts

The proposed scheme has a number of environmental impacts. The dam would result in a loss of habitat for the endangered Canterbury mudfish. The dam would also have an impact on amenity and landscape values, especially for the settlement of Coalgate. Water abstraction from the rivers will have an effect on ecology and other natural characteristics. The intensification of farming as a result of water being made available by the scheme has led to fears of increased nitrate contamination of the aquifers.

Canterbury mudfish habitat

The Canterbury mudfish is a native freshwater fish of the galaxiid family that is found only in Canterbury. It is an acutely threatened species that is classified as 'Nationally Endangered'. [ [http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/science-and-technical/tsrp51.pdf New Zealand mudfish (Neochanna spp.) recovery plan] (Northland, black, brown, Canterbury and Chatham mudfish). 2003. Department of Conservation Threatened Species Recovery Plan 51. 25 p.]

In October 2002, staff of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), were engaged by Central Plains to survey fish populations in the Waianiwaniwa River catchment as part of the investigation into the potential dam site. The survey identified a large and abundant population of Canterbury mudfish that had previously been unknown. NIWA concluded that the dam would be problematic for the mudfish as their habitat would be replaced by an unsuitable reservoir and the remaining waterways would be opened to predatory eels. [Glova, G.; Duncan, M.; Henderson, R.; Kelly, D.; Walsh, J. 2001. 'Central Plains water enhancement: an assessment of potential environmental effects'. NIWA Client Report: CHC01/85.] Although NIWA did no further work for Central Plains Water, much of NIWA's fish survey was included in the assessment of effects on the environment prepared by URS New Zealand Limited. However, a new approach to the effects on the mudfish was included. Mitigation of the loss of habitat would be further evaluated following consultation with the Department of Conservation. [URS (2006), Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme: Assessment of Environmental Effects for Resource Consent Applications to Canterbury Regional Council, [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf06/Section8.pdf Section 8, page 8.40, para 8.6.5] , Prepared for Central Plains Water Trust, 23 June 2006, 42156547.66140 AEE R001C, by URS New Zealand Limited.]

In July 2006, and in January and February 2007, University of Canterbury researchers surveyed the Waianiwaniwa Valley for mudfish. The fish identified ranged from young recruits to mature adult fish, indicating a healthy population. Canterbury mudfish occur in at least 24 kilometres of the Waianiwaniwa River. Also, sites in the Waianiwaniwa Valley accounted for 47% of all fish database records known for Canterbury mudfish (based on mean catch per unit effort). Therefore it was concluded that the Waianiwaniwa catchment is the most important known habitat for this species. [Harding, J. S., Norton, D. A. & McIntosh, A. R. (2007) Persistence of a significant population of rare Canterbury mudfish (Neochanna burrowsius) in a hydrologically isolated catchment. 'New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research', 2007, Vol. 41: 309-316, The Royal Society of New Zealand.] Forest and bird's expert witness, Ecologist Colin Meurk concluded that the Waiainiwaniwa catchment "represents the largest known Canterbury mudfish habitat and is substantially larger than any other documented mudfish habitats. A rare combination of conditions makes the Waianiwaniwa River a unique ecosystem and creates an important whole catchment refuge for the conservation of this nationally threatened species". [Statement of evidence of Colin Douglas Meurk on behalf of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, para 32]

Angus McIntosh, Associate Professor of Freshwater Ecology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, presented evidence on behalf of the Department of Conservation. He disagreed with the CPW evidence on mudfish. He made three conclsuions:
* The Waianiwaniwa Valley population of Canterbury mudfish ("Neochanna burrowsius") is the largest and most important population of this nationally endangered fish in existence.
* The construction of the dam in the Waianiwaniwa Valley will eliminate the natural population and mudfish will not be able to live in the reservoir or any connected streams.
* CPW's proposed measures to mitigate the loss of the Waianiwaniwa population of Canterbury mudfish are inadequate to address the significance and characteristics of the mudfish population that would be lost and are largely undocumented. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/E705B735-4254-4EEA-B97D-1B4E86A68AF6/0/HearingEvidenceAngusMcIntosh.pdf Hearing Evidence - Angus McIntosh] Statement of evidence of Angus Ronald McIntosh on behalf of the Director General of Conservation, May 2008, retrieved 30 June 2008.]

The hearing of the applications and submissions

The hearing to decide the on the notice of requirement for designation and to decide the applications for resource consents sought from Canterbury Regional Council and Selwyn District Council, commenced on 25 February 2008. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/About+Us/DisplayMediaRelease.html?id=1028 Officer's report into Central Plains Water on web today] , Canterbury Regional Council Media Release, 1 February 2008, retrieved 2 February 2008.]

The hearing will run intermittently, hearing first from Council witnesses and submitters, with CPW's technical evidence in reply to follow. A decision is unlikely before August 2008. [ [http://www.cpw.org.nz/pdf08/Commissioners%20letter%20Dec%2007.pdf Minutes and Directions of Commissioners relating to preliminary and procedural matters] by Philip Milne for and behalf of the Panel, 21 December 2007, retrieved 3 February 2008.]

Council Officer’s Reports

On 1 February 2008, the Canterbury Regional Council and Selwyn District Council Officer’s Reports were placed on the Canterbury Regional Council website. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water/PlansAndReports.htm Central Plains Plans and Reports] , Section 42A Reports from Selwyn District Council, Section 42A Reports from Environment Canterbury, retrieved 2 February 2008.]

The summary Canterbury Regional Council report, by Principal Consents Advisor Leo Fietje, does not make a formal recommendation to either grant or decline the applications. However, Fietje considers, that on the basis of the applicant's evidence and the officer's reviews to date, that not all the adverse effects of the proposal can be avoided, remedied or mitigated. Uncertainty remains over fish screens, natural character of the Waimakariri River, terrestrial ecology, and effects on lowland streams. Increased nitrate-nitrogen concentrations are considered significant. The loss of endangered Canterbury mudfish habitat due to the dam is considered to be a significant adverse effect. The report notes that any recommendations are not binding on the hearing panel, and that they may reach different conclusions on hearing further evidence. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/CD6D02AA-B9BF-43E8-BED8-2D081FFE9D1A/0/001SelwynDistrictCouncils42AOfficerReport.pdf Section 42A Officer s Report] , Date of Hearing: 25 February 2008, Report of Leo Fietje, retrieved 2 February 2008.]

The summary Selwyn District Council report, by Nick Boyes of Resource Management Group Ltd, recommends declining both the Notice of Requirement and the applications for land use consents. This report also notes that any recommendations are not binding on the hearing panel, and they may reach different conclusions on hearing further evidence. Several reasons for the recommendation are given. CPW has relied on ten management plans to mitigate adverse effects, but has not provided draft copies of any such plans. Insufficient information has been provided, despite formal requests, for the Selwyn District Council witnesses to assess the significance of the social effects, the effects on archaeological and heritage values, effects on wetlands and terrestrial ecology, effects on water safety, and the effects on Ngai Tahu statutory acknowledgement areas. Also, the CPW cost-benefit-analysis, which is critical to the farmer-uptake and investment in, and therefore the viability of, the scheme, is considered to lack robustness and to overstate benefits and understate costs. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/CD6D02AA-B9BF-43E8-BED8-2D081FFE9D1A/0/001SelwynDistrictCouncils42AOfficerReport.pdf] Section 42A Officer s Report, Prepared by Nick Boyes on behalf of the Selwyn District Council, for Notices of Requirement by Central Plains Water Limited and Applications for Resource Consent by the Central Plains Water Trust. 31 January 2008.]

In resource consent hearings the burden of proof generally falls on the consent applicant to satisfy a hearing panel that the purpose of the Resource Management Act is met by granting rather than refusing consent. Also, a burden of proof lies on any party who wishes a hearing panel (or the Environment Court) to make a determination of adverse or positive effects. A 'scintilla' of probative evidence may be enough to make an issue of a particular adverse effect 'live' and therefore requiring rebuttal if it is not to be found to be established. [ [http://www.rmla.org.nz/_downloads/RMLA%20August-06_LR.pdf Carrying the burden: Considering the appropriate evidential tests in resource management decisions] , By Claire Kirman, Ellis Gould and Catherine Somerville, Chapman Tripp, Resource Management Journal, August 2006.] The Officers' reports, in noting several adverse effects, have moved the burden of proof for rebuttal onto the witnesses for Central Plains Water Trust. The Central Plains witnesses have responded by preparing some 36 separate briefs of evidence. On 19 February 2008, these were placed on the [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water/PlansAndReports.htm#evidence Environment Canterbury website] . [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/About+Us/DisplayMediaRelease.html?id=1038 Overview timetable Central Plains Water hearing Feb 25 beginning] , Media Release, Canterbury Regional Council, Tuesday, 19 February 2008, retrieved 20 February 2008.] The opening legal submission for Central Plains Water Trust summarises each brief of technical evidence and concludes that any adverse effects of the scheme will either be adequately mitigated or will be insignificant in light of the positive economic benefits of the scheme. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0909B178-D842-4C2D-AC5D-E6E49D0F78AE/0/CPWOpeningLegalSubmissionsweb.pdf Legal submissions on behalf of Central Plains Water Trust and Central Plains Water Limited] , Ed Wylie Q.C., K.G. Smith & R.M. Dunningham, dated 25 February 2008, retrieved 28 February 2008.] By 4 March 2008, the Central Plains witnesses had each provided further rebuttal evidence in response to the Officers' reports released on 1 February 2008. [ [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water/ResponseToEvidence.htm Applicant's responses to evidence presented] , Canterbury Regional Council web site, 4 March 2008, retrieved 6 March 2008.]

Alternatives to the Project

One alternative which has been proposed, is a government owned and operated water recycling program, combined with enforced sustainable agricultural practices. [ [http://connect.homeunix.com/outfall/News/9B62B35F-D52B-4A7A-B5D8-6461BF2920AA.html Ocean Outfall, Christchurch, New Zealand, Community Website : News] , 16 September 2008.]

References

External links

* [http://www.cpw.org.nz/ Central Plains Water Trust]
* [http://www.cpwl.co.nz/index.html Central Plains Water Limited]
* [http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Reference/SustainableLiving/Water/CentralPlains/ Christchurch Library] - CPW page
* [http://www.selwyn.govt.nz/cpw/cpw-main.htm Selwyn District Council Council] - CPW page
* [http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Resource+Consents/Central+Plains+Water+Trust.htm Canterbury Regional Council] - details of the CPW applications to Canterbury Regional Council for resource consents


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