High Country farm denied water consents

05 Apr 2013

Forest & Bird believes Environment Canterbury “made the right decision” when it declined an application to divert the Cass River just east of Arthur’s Pass National Park, and use the water to irrigate pasture for the next 35 years.

Lake Grasmere. www.adventureguide.co.nz

Lake Grasmere. www.adventureguide.co.nz

Commissioner Robert Nixon declined P&E Ltd’s resource consent applications to irrigate 500ha for grazing sheep and beef cattle, on the basis that the potential adverse environmental effects, particularly on water quality and landscape, “would be more than minor”.

Forest & Bird’s lawyer Peter Anderson presented a legal submission at last month’s hearing that argued the proposal would negatively impact on landscape values. He also highlighted the potential adverse environmental affects, particularly of effluent and nitrates leaching into the nearby Lake Grasmere.

Forest & Bird Canterbury/West Coast Field Officer Jen Miller argued in her written submission that Lake Grasmere, which was already near eutrophic, was part of a special area worth protecting. “It’s essentially the gateway to Arthurs Pass and the alps. And there are several, pretty cool lakes there that have significant wildlife and recreational values. We were pretty concerned that this land intensification would be allowed to occur.”

Jen said the result essentially upheld provisions in the Regional Plan, but the strength of its case was reinforced by submissions made by local individuals and community groups like Ashburton Forest & Bird, other NGOs and conservationists such as our own Conservation Ambassador Gerry McSweeney.

Jen said the decision sends a message to would-be developers. “There are several large stations in that area that may or may not be considering intensifying land in the future. [The decision] signals that water quality and landscape are important issues to ECan, and that consents for intensification will be declined unless there is clear evidence that these values will no be compromised.”