Aquifer consent due for renewal

Milan Ruka.
Milan Ruka.

The 15-year-old consent for Zodiac Holdings to tap into the aquifer feeding Poroti Springs is due for renewal by the end of this week.

Zodiac Holdings, now known by its parent company's name New Zealand Spring Water, gained the consent to bottle and sell the water.

Whatitiri Maori Reserve Trust (WMRT) is hoping the company will not re-apply for the consent that has caused controversy for many years, or that Whangarei District Council will refuse its renewal.

Freshwater advocate and conservationist, and local hapu member, Milan Ruka said some conditions on which the council based its last assessment for the resource consent have changed. Factors that should go against a consent being reissued include successive droughts in recent years and the reclassification of the heavily used Mangakahia Rd logging transport route into a state highway.

Last year WMRT was angry plans were approved for the company to increase the footprint of its proposed factory without the matter being publicly notified.

The variation to the original 2001 resource consent doubled the plant's size from 1850sq m to 3650sq m and its height from 7m to 10m.

Although Northland Regional and Whangarei councils said the increase would have minimal impact on earthworks at the site, Mr Ruka said it was "insulting and beyond decency" that the consent variation was not subject to a new consent process.

Both councils said at the time there would be other notifiable processes through which submissions could be made in subsequent consent stages.

Despite holding the water permits since 2001, the company has not yet taken a drop. New Zealand Spring Water has advertised for partnership deals in China and pre-marketed Poroti Springs water there under the brand name Thunder Mountain.

- Northern Advocate

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