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Road Metals Limited v Selwyn District Council and Environment Canterbury
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By: Amanda Douglas
Road Metals Company Limited (Road Metals) sought consent to establish and operate a quarry, involving surface extraction of river metals from a property in Burnham adjacent to Rolleston. Both district and regional consents were needed.
It was proposed that the current farming activities would continue during the quarrying, and after it ceased, on the rehabilitated site. It was expected that quarrying could continue for as long as 100 years, due to the size of the site.
Road Metals made an application for direct referral of the application to the Environment Court, under section 87G of the Resource Management Act 1991. This meant that there was no hearing at Council level; the first and only hearing took place in the Environment Court. Submitters in opposition included a residents' association and a number of individual residents.
One of the main issues was the water allocation consent required. The site was within a groundwater allocation block in which the current water allocation was already over-allocated. The proposed new water take was therefore non-complying. Whether sufficient water was available for the proposed operation became a critical issue, as significant water resources were required to mitigate dust effects on the site.
The Court found that the water take from the proposed bore could be kept non-consumptive by using water from a consented bore on adjoining land owned by Road Metals for dust suppression and irrigation.
The other environmental effects of the proposal on the surrounding rural area were also considered in depth. The Court concluded that the environmental effects of the proposal could be appropriately managed, with conditions, such that the impact on the area would be acceptable.
On this basis, the Court found that the overall benefits and the demand for aggregate in the Canterbury region meant that granting consent subject to conditions would achieve the sustainable management purpose of the Act.
Wynn Williams, in its role as counsel for the Canterbury Regional Council, was closely involved in the direct referral process. Our experience in the direct referral process and other substantial resource consent and plan hearings allows us to achieve the best results for our clients, whether they are applicants, submitters, or consent authorities.
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