HWP Consenting Timeline - The Tortuous Journey: 2001-2015 

 
2001: In the face of extreme drought conditions, at least three parties separately commence exploring opportunities to establish water storage facilities in the Hurunui and Waipara catchments to enable irrigation.
 
2003: Enterprise North Canterbury subsequently facilitates the combining of these interests into a region-wide initiative. Unincorporated joint venture formed known as Hurunui Community Water Development Project Working Group (HWG) comprising a farmers’ trust (Hurunui Irrigation and Power Trust), MainPower, Ngai Tahu Forest Estates, and David Teece the owner of Eskhead Station - a potential storage site.
 
Sustainable Farming Fund financial support for development studies is secured.
 
Studies initiated by Tonkin & Taylor following contestable process.
 
2004: ECan releases draft Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP) which radically changes planning requirements for any development in the Hurunui (and all of Canterbury).
 
2005: HWG development study completed following major revision to accommodate the draft NRRP – five development options identified.
Preferred option: Irrigate 61,600ha;  Storage – Weir at Lake Sumner and Dam on South Branch; Cost of water to farm gate - $4,500-$5,500/ha
 
2005-2008: Hearings on the draft NRRP. Consultation on proposed variations is occurring at the same time as hearings are occurring on the NRRP.
 
2006: HWG initiates consultation with landowners, environmental groups and the community on its Preferred Option – Lake Sumner South Branch for water storage.
 
2007: Fish & Game make application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) on the Hurunui River as a direct consequence of consultation by HWG on proposed irrigation development
 
2007: ECan releases multiple variations to the draft NRRP including Variation 8 which again changes the flow regime for the Hurunui River
 
2008: Working Group formalises its structure by establishing Hurunui Water Project Ltd (HWP) with four founding shareholders (being the members of the Working Group as above).
 
2009: HWP applies for water consents to take, use, dam and store water at Lake Sumner and South Branch – consents applications notified. The hearing decision on the application for a Water Conservation Order on the Hurunui River is under appeal. HWP applications are consistent with the then Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), the WCO is not.
 
September 2010: HWP shareholding opened to landowners with successful $8M capital raising. HWP is now a limited liability company with around 200 shareholders
 
April 2010: Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management Act) Act 2010 (ECan Act) amongst other things removes councillors, installs commissioners; and imposes moratoria on processing HWP consents and the WCO appeal.
 
2010: Commissioners restart the CWMS process. Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee formed in June 2010 to develop a community focussed Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP). Water storage is proposed for Waitohi (as first preference) rather than Lake Sumner/South Branch (which is retained as back-up option). Two other developers propose Waitohi storage solutions – Zone Committee runs “Waitohi Selection Process” - HWP is successful, and the HWP proposal is built into the ZIP.
 
July 2011: (Non-statutory) ZIP released, to be used as basis for the (statutory) Hurunui Waiau Rivers Regional Plan (HWRRP) prepared by Ecan.
 
October 2011: Moratorium expires and HWP applies for second set of consents consistent with ZIP – timing ensures RMA priority for this HWP Waitohi scheme consents application.
 
October 2011: Provisional HWRRP notified – some key elements are different from the ZIP.
 
September 2012: HWP Waitohi scheme consents notified
 
October/November 2012: HWRRP hearings
 
December 2012: HWP consent applications re-notified – to change and clarify a number of aspects of proposed developments.
 
March 2013 to July 2013: HWP resource consent hearings
 
April 2013: HWRRP hearing decisions released and appealed by HWP (and others). Significant changes from the ZIP in relation to irrigation interests.
 
August 2013: Decisions on HWP consents issued, appealed by Amuri Irrigation largely on nutrient management grounds, and is later joined by Ngai Tahu. No environmental/other appeals.
 
December 2013: Environment Court mediator initiates processes to attempt to resolve appeal, then withdraws to enable the three irrigating interests to resolve their differences.
 
December 2013: HWRRP made operative after appeal issues resolved by consent/withdrawn (under the ECan Act 2010 appeals can only be to the High Court on points of law)
 
2014: Substantial negotiations between the three parties now possible with the HWRRP operative. Alternate regulatory approach put to ECan by HWP and the two appellants to the HWP consents to assist in the resolution of nutrient management issues, and is endorsed by ECan.
 
February 2015: Appeals on HWP consents resolved – consent memorandum seeking the appeal be resolved by consent order filed with Environment Court
 
August 2015: Amuri Irrigation withdraws its appeal to the HWP consents on the back of ECan granting them a Change of Land Use consent which satisfies the issues of their appeal
 
September 2015: Environment Court has hearing with amicus curiae (James Milne), HWP (represented by Alan Galbraith QC), Amuri Irrigation, and ECan all supporting the withdrawal by Amuri Irrigation. Environment Court rules the withdrawal of the appeal is invalid and calls for judicial conference on 15 October 2015.
 
October 2015: HWP appeals Environment Court decision to High Court. 
 
December (08) 2015The High Court issues its ruling in favour of HWP and ECan, over-ruling the Environment Court decision and declaring the appeal terminated.

 

December (18) 2015: ECan finally issues the nine consents, originally granted on 05 August 2013, along with a consent to change land use for farming, applied for in late 2014.
 
 
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