Environment Canterbury won’t appeal water bottling decision

Environment Canterbury has decided it will not seek leave to appeal the recent decision of the Court of Appeal on its grant of consents for Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited to carry out water bottling activities at plants previously used for other industrial activities.

In 2020, the High Court upheld the grant of the consents, but Aotearoa Water Action Inc appealed that Court’s decision to the Court of Appeal.

In July of this year the Court of Appeal found that Environment Canterbury could not grant a resource consent that was limited to the use of the water for bottling purposes separately from the authorisation to take the water to be used for that purpose.

This meant the consents granted to the two water bottling companies were not lawfully granted and resulted in the consents being set aside.

Chief Executive Dr Stefanie Rixecker said the outcome from the Court of Appeal decision was certainty about how the rules around water “take” and “use” should be applied.

“This allows us to proceed confidently when considering future consent applications,” she said.

A “take” authorises how much water can be removed from any water body (surface water bodies like rivers, or from groundwater / aquifers), while a “use” authorises the purpose for which water is used, such as irrigation, water bottling or hydro-electricity generation.

“While the Resource Management Act allows take and use to be separated, the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan does not, so further litigation is unnecessary,” Dr Rixecker said.

“We are considering how we deal with consents granted under the former (at that time, lawful) approach. We are also assessing how many granted consents are affected, but those consents remain valid unless a Court issues a decision to set them aside. Environment Canterbury can’t revoke any of these consents because the law doesn’t allow us to do that.”

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