Cantabrians left out of freshwater management

31 Oct 2012

Cantabrians have lost their right to have a say on how their freshwater resources are managed now that the Government has extended the term of appointed commissioners running Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Last month, Local Government Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Amy Adams announced the decision to extend ECan Act provisions until 2016.

Rather than return to a publicly elected councillors in 2013, the regional council will remain under government appointed commissioners for a further three years.

Immediately after last month’s announcement, then Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Toki said the decision was a deliberate move to continue green-lighting large-scale irrigation schemes in Canterbury.

Nicola pointed to documents Forest & Bird received in 2010 under the Official Information Act that showed the driving factor behind the ECan reform and legislation was to “accelerate large scale water storage and irrigation in Canterbury”.

Forest & Bird is further disturbed that the move continues to disallow Cantabrians their basic democratic right to appeal decisions of freshwater management. “The commissioners have achieved some good outcomes,”

Nicola said. “But there’s no reason that Cantabrians shouldn’t be able to appeal the same way people from Hamilton can, the same way people from Southland can. No other region has legislation like this,” she said.

Allowing the public the right of appeal predominantly works in favour for environmental goals as Nicola said. Freshwater is a particularly important issue in Canterbury, which has 70 per cent of the country’s freshwater resource.