Mayfield Hinds Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s application for consent renewal

Recently, several media stories have focused on Mayfield Hinds Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s application for a renewal of its consent.

The independent hearing commissioner closed the hearing on 6 April 2021 and a decision is expected by the end of the month. See below for some of the commonly asked questions about this application.

Commonly asked questions

Why hasn't the application been notified?
The Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), which was developed collaboratively with our communities and proceeded through the full statutory planning process (including appeals to the High Court), prevented notification of the Mayfield/Hinds/Valetta (MHV) application. The exception to that preclusion is in relation to effects on the Ngāi Tahu Statutory Acknowledgement (under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998) on the Hakatere / Ashburton River. 

Notification of this application to the wider public was therefore unavailable to the Council, however the application was notified to Ngāi Tahu due to the potential adverse effects on the Hakatere / Ashburton River due to the Statutory Acknowledgement.

MHV’s application (CRC185857) was therefore notified to the extent legally possible. Further information and documentation relating to this application, including the s42A Officer’s Report, which set out the terms on which Environment Canterbury is processing this consent application, are available on the consent search web page under the ‘Related Info’ tab.
Who heard the application and when?
Following notification to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu a submission was received. A hearing for the application was held late last year in front of an independent hearing commissioner. The applicant has provided its written right of reply, and the independent hearing commissioner closed the hearing on April 6 2021. A decision is expected by the end of April 2021. As this consent is currently under consideration we cannot make any further comment about it.
How does this fit with the Government’s Resource Management National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Regulations 2020 (NESF)?
As part of their right of reply, the applicant withdrew amendments to their proposal that related to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. They will therefore need to apply for those applications separately should they wish to consent those aspects. If they do apply, that application will proceed in accordance with the RMA process.
If the scheme is granted a renewal what impact will it have on Environment Canterbury's objectives around lowering nitrates in Canterbury?
Under the RMA, the hearing commissioner must have regard to the relevant national and regional policy frameworks, including the recent National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPSFM 2020), when making their decision. In addition, the relevant part of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (for the Hinds part of the Ashburton Sub-region) requires reductions in nitrogen losses over time. 

We will soon be reviewing our plan and must, in accordance with the NPSFM 2020, notify a new plan that is compliant with the NPS’ standards by December 2024.  That process will also obviously be a fully public process.

Essential freshwater

For a summary and advice on the Government's Essential Freshwater package and Te Mana o te Wai, plus frequently asked questions, which we're regularly reviewing and updating please see the below links.

Here are some links to additional information:

Other mid-Canterbury irrigation schemes applying for consents

We have also received applications from the Barrhill-Chertsey Irrigation Limited (BCI) (CRC184159 & CRC211511) and Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Limited (ALIL) (CRC185469) irrigation schemes. As BCI’s command area straddles two planning zones, it requires two applications.

Notification of these applications was also precluded (also following public planning processes), except to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in relation to the Hakatere / Ashburton River. Both applications have been limited notified to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

ALIL was heard by an Independent Commissioner on Monday 15 February but the hearing has yet to be closed. BCI has yet to have a hearing date set down and so hasn’t been heard.

The consenting process

When a resource consent application is received by the council, we must process it in accordance with the Resource Management Act 1991 including consideration of the effects of a proposal. As part of this process, we must consider whether public notification is required under Section 95A of the Resource Management Act.

In situations where notification is specifically precluded (as was the case when the notification decision on these applications was made), we are unable to notify the application on the basis of adverse environmental effects. Read more about the notification process.