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Positive Northland Environment Court decision

26 January 2021

The Environment Court has released its decision of the appeals relating to the water quality and allocation topics of the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland today (26 January 2021).

There were two significant outcomes that are positive for horticulture:

  • The Court took a pragmatic view in agreeing that the plan should include allowance for rootstock survival water. This means that in a water permit consent, the ability to continue to take some water when minimum flows (requiring cease takes) are reached for the purpose of keeping rootstock alive. The Court accepted that there are times where water takes are essential for the survival of horticultural activity, and that providing for rootstock water within defined limits represented a ‘pragmatic and responsible approach’.
  • The other key win in the decision was the recognition of the important role of water storage. The decision retains a Restricted Discretionary rule for takes above median flows, when there is 50% flow share (as opposed to a much more restrictive allowance of only 10% of water above median flows). This increases the ability to take water for water storage.