Ashburton District Council is in the process of selling 10 hectares of commercial land in the Ashburton Business Estate. The prospective buyer is interested in setting up a water-bottling plant.
The parcel of land includes an existing consent for water abstraction from local aquifers. Council was granted this consent by Environment Canterbury in September 2011, after it had considered the effects on other water users and the aquifers. Details of this consent are available on the ECan website.
The consent includes a recharge consent that will mean more water is returned to the aquifers than is taken out.
In response to the latest media coverage about the sale of Lot 9 at the Ashburton Business Estate, we want to reassure our community that the sale of this property has been conducted following the correct processes and requirements. Below are some of the responses that have been provided to the media today.
Did the Council consult before it obtained a consent to take water from
Resource consent was obtained from ECAN in 2011 for a wet industry on the site. This consent was granted following consultation with four other parties whose water bores might have been affected by taking water from the aquifer. This consultation was a requirement of the consent.
Ngai Tahu were not consulted at this time but contributed to the Natural Resources Regional Water Plan, which sets limits for water use in the Canterbury region. Councils do not have to consult with Ngai Tahu or local iwi for all consents, of which there are many in the Ashburton district.
Did the Council consult on the sale of land at the Ashburton
There was community consultation on the development of the business estate prior to being established as it was a plan change under the Resource Management Act. Every year the Council includes its activity as a commercial property owner in the Annual Plan which is consulted on; however, no individual land sale at the business estate is subject to public consultation as it is a commercial transaction.
How much water would the new owner of Lot 9 be able to take from the aquifer?
The new owner would be allowed to take 45 litres per second from the aquifer under the resource consent. A discharge consent sits alongside this consent, which means that 60 litres per second must be returned to the aquifer. This will be done via water from Ashburton's stock water system being directed into swales, surrounded by native plantings. Water returning to the aquifers must be of the same quality as that being taken.
Will the water being taken from the aquifer mean less water is available for farming or the town water supply?
No, it won't have any impact on the town water supply or water use for farming. This was an important consideration for ECAN before the consent was granted.
Who is the proposed purchaser?
We can't discuss anything about the purchaser. At this stage, it is commercially sensitive.
What will the Council use the money for?
Money from any commercial sale in the business estate is used to offset rates.