Abandon consent or ‘face legal action’

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Ashburton council has to abandon its water consent for Lot 9 at the Ashburton Business Estate by July 30 or face legal proceedings.
However, the council has said it will proceed with its sale of Lot 9.
Bung the Bore leader Jen Branje, addressing the council, said that should there be no decision by July 30, ‘‘we will be left with no other choice than to instigate legal proceedings. The time to stop this deal is now. The decision is in your hands’’.
She received a standing ovation from a gallery packed with Bung the Bore supporters – and was thanked by mayor Angus Mckay.
Mrs Branje said crowd-funding would be used to raise the $80,000 thought needed for a judicial review.
She also asked the council to abandon the sale of Lot 9 at Ashburton Business Estate – with groundwater at a ‘‘66-year low, gifting our water resources for the purpose of bottling is illconsidered’’.
Council is negotiating with NZ Pure Blue Ltd, which proposes to bottle water – and create jobs – at the site.
Mrs Branje spoke to the council just minutes after councillor Ken Cutforth accepted a 40,000-signature petition from ActionStation’s Laura O’Connell Rapira. She flew from Auckland to present it, saying 99 per cent of the signatures were from New Zealanders.
It vowed to help with crowd-source funding if the issue became a legal fight.
Mr Cutforth said the non-notified consent was a ‘‘stitch up’’ by an unelected ECan, and the water belonged to ‘‘our children and grandchildren’’. He later presented the petition to Mr McKay.
Mr Cutforth said the protests were having an effect because the buyer (NZ Pure Blue Ltd) was raising the stakes, reference to an offer to buy adjoining lots to develop a rail siding at the park.
Mrs Branje said Bung the Bore could not ‘‘do it on our own’’ and sought as much public support as possible.
In her five-minute speaking slot at council, Mrs Branje said that recent climate change models showed the East Coast of the South Island would become hotter and drier, increasing demand for water when supply was reduced.
‘‘We consider that our deep aquifers, while remaining relatively untapped, afford our community a form of insurance for clean, potable water for the future.
‘‘We also believe that continued mass extraction for any purpose must be allocated with careful consideration and take into account current climate change predictions, economic and social benefit and sustainability.
‘‘Should those entrusted to manage and govern our water resources continue to ignore the warning signs, the future of our district will most definitely be compromised,’’ Mrs Branje said.
She said that the recharge proposal – consent conditions are that more water be put back into the water zone than is taken out by the bottling plant – was not new water, coming from the Ashburton River, so could not be considered recharge.
Mrs Branje said the managed aquifer recharge trial near Ashburton was only to rectify the damage of over allocation.
She raised key points in her submission: the appropriate use of water, climate change, recharge provisions, social responsibility, financial responsibility, the managed aquifer recharge, the granting by ECan of a non-notified consent, and integrity.
‘‘We assure you of our intention to take this consent and its process to a judicial review should common sense not prevail,’’ Mrs Branje said.