On 31 January 2014 Simons Pass/Hill filed a High Court appeal against the Environment Court decision preventing their intensive dairy conversion of 4,800 acres.
Mackenzie Guardians Inc. is supporting Environment Court appeals by Forest and Bird against proposals to irrigate approx. 4,800 hectares of the Pukaki outwash plain for intensive dairy farming.
On 24 May 2013 Simons Pass/Hill applied to the Court to partially strike out three Forest and Bird appeals.
The strike out hearing was held at Christchurch on 14 – 15 October 2013 before Judge Jane Borthwick and a Hearing Commissioner. Several Forest and Bird members and Mackenzie Guardians were present in the public gallery.
Simons Pass/Hill lawyers argued that Forest and Bird’s original submission against the proposal did not address landscape and ecological issues, and therefore these grounds should not be allowed.
Forest and Bird’s original submission was lodged in September 2007 as a single written submission on 161 applications for resource consent.
Forest and Bird lawyers, Sally Gepp and Peter Anderson, argued that the law does allow the raising of evidence relating to ecology and landscape values, even though these matters were not in the original submission, and that these matters were within the scope of the original submission.
The court released a decision on 20 December 2013 declining the application to partially strike out the proceedings.
On 31 January 2014 Simons Pass/Hill filed a High Court appeal against the Environment Court decision.
The Mackenzie’s tussock- lands are part of a fragile network of eco-systems that include an alpine weta that survives being frozen solid during winter, and moths, beetles and grasshoppers that are only found in the basin.This application pits cows against critically-endangered birds like the black stilt and the wrybill, the only bird in the world that has a bend in its beak, which the wrybill uses for searching for food under small riverstones. The Mackenzie’s braided rivers full crystal-clear snow melt, provide the environment for native birds and sixty rare or threatened plant species grow in the Basin.
This proposed industrial scale irrigation will add huge pressure to threatened birds and unique flora and fauna. If these native grasslands that have evolved to survive the area’s extreme climate are irrigated, and artificial nutrients are added, these unique ecosystems will be lost forever.
Two high-country stations have been granted consents to carry out a multimillion-dollar irrigation development near Lake Pukaki.
Environment Canterbury hearing commissioners had granted Simon Hill Station and neighbouring property Simons Pass Station the right to take water from the Tekapo Canal and Lake Pukaki.Simons Pass Station’s consent was interim and subject to the applicants amending the proposal before it was granted.
Barring appeals, the consents granted the high-country properties the right to irrigate a combined 4800 hectares of crops and pasture for grazing.The two properties would irrigate the land using centre pivots. Simons Pass would install 26 full pivots and several half pivots and Simons Hill would install 19 pivot irrigators.The consents were two of several based in the Upper Waitaki issued by the commissioners.
Simons Pass Station owner Murray Valentine said he was relieved the consent was granted, but wary given the possibility of the decision being appealed against.Having irrigated farmland meant they would produce more dry matter and could intensify their stock numbers, Mr Valentine said.
“What it means is that instead on having zero to half a stock unit a hectare, if we irrigate that area we could get between 15 to 20 stock units.”
ECan also granted consents to discharge surplus irrigation water into Pukaki River at a rate not exceeding 1531 litres per second.Consents to build an irrigation intake structure and a pipeline servicing Simons Hill and Simons Pass Stations and potentially Glentanner and Maryburn Stations were also granted.
Mr Valentine said it was “most likely” this intake structure would be installed at the Tekapo Canal and gravity-feed water through a buried pipeline to the irrigation areas.
At the end of the day this is about valuing a unique ecosystem as opposed to our exploiting water for the almighty cow dollar cash flow.