New Zealand's water bottling saga has reached a new low with the West Coast Regional Council shutting the public out of its decision to grant consents allowing a bottling operation near Mount Aspiring National Park, the Green Party said today.
Okuru Enterprises has been given the final consents it needs to go ahead with plans to pipe glacial water from near Mount Aspiring National Park directly onto tanker ships offshore of Jackson Bay.
“It’s completely unfair that New Zealanders have not been allowed to comment on or challenge the consent applications by a private company to extract the equivalent of 27 Olympic pools of pristine water every day," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“These new consents will allow industrial water storage facilities to be built on a remote West Coast beach, a pipeline to be bulldozed through rainforest on conservation land, and excavations on the coast and seabed.
"There’s also a risk of invasive marine pests establishing themselves on a pristine part of the West Coast from the tanker's ballast discharges.
“The Council has been irresponsible in accepting Okuru's claims that these consents are just for minor activities, when clearly they're not.
“Unfortunately, councils are now able to lock the public out of these important decisions because of National’s changes to the Resource Management Act, which weakened requirements for public consultation.
“It's bad enough that Okuru Enterprises gets free access to our water to sell at a huge profit. In the process it will irreversibly damage South Westland's landscapes and seascapes, and the habitat of at least three threatened species: tokoeka/Haast Kiwi, Hector's dolphin and tawaki/Fiordland crested penguin," said Ms Sage.