Media Statement - Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister approves moratorium proposal for Hurunui
Environment Minister Nick Smith has given his approval for Environment Canterbury Commissioners to place a moratorium on new water takes from the Hurunui River and its tributaries from 1 August to 1 October 2011.
“The Hurunui moratorium proposal makes good sense when there is no proper plan for the river and catchment,” Dr Smith said. “It will provide much needed breathing space in which stakeholders can develop a balanced and comprehensive plan for the Hurunui River ahead of major decisions on proposals for irrigation development and water conservation orders that will impact upon the future of the river for generations to come.”
The Minister received a letter from the Commissioners on Monday seeking to use the special moratorium process of the Environment Canterbury Act and, following consultation with Cabinet and Caucus, approved the proposal yesterday. Commissioners will make the final decision on the moratorium at a special council meeting on 22 July.
“It would be a legal mess and a procedural nightmare to have decisions on the massive 42,000 hectare Hurunui Water Project being considered separately from the proposed water conservation order and plan for the river,” Dr Smith said.
“This moratorium will breathe life into the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the recently announced Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee. It provides a window of opportunity for a collaborative local approach in which provision is made for both the economic development and environmental sustainability of the Hurunui River.
“That the first use of the special powers under the Environment Canterbury Act (2010) is a moratorium reinforces the Government’s intent that irrigation development in Canterbury needs to occur in a planned and sustainable way.”