Monday, April 06, 2009

A victory for the environment

The Central Plains Water Scheme has been denied resource consent by Environment Canterbury. The scheme would have flooded the Waianiwaniwa Valley to create a storage lake, drowning a local community so that dairy farmers could make even more money polluting Christchurch's water supply. Incredibly, then-Minister for the Environment David Benson-Pope had given the private company involved, Central Plains Water, "requiring authority" under the Public Works Act, allowing it to force people from their land for the private profit of their farmer-shareholders. But now ECan's commissioners have seen sense, ruling in a preliminary minute [PDF] that they would not be granting consents for either the dam or the inundation.

So, it's back to the drawing board for Central Plains Water. There is some indication they will be granted water rights if they can put together an alternative scheme which doesn't rely on flooding the Waianiwaniwa Valley, which gives them the option of putting together a better scheme with lower environmental impacts. But rather than doing that, they're looking at Lake Coleridge. The lake is subject to a Water Conservation Order, and all the water that is allowed to be used from it is already allocated to a hydro dam - but with big money (for a few) riding on the scheme, and a farmer government with a crazy minister, you do have to wonder whether that will be much of a barrier. Assuming, that is, that they don't just Clyde Dam it and grant a resource consent by Parliamentary fiat so their allies can make more money.