The West Coast company behind 30-year-old plans to export ship loads of water from Jackson Bay says the entire pipeline will be under the ground, and under the sea.
Okuru Enterprises Ltd, now trading as Alpine Pure, was first issued consent to export water from Tuning Fork Creek, an alpine tributary of the Arawhata River, 30 years ago. It last year renewed its consents with the West Coast Regional Council, and has applied to do the same with the Westland District Council.
Although the company has so far not managed to export a drop of water, the consent renewal has drawn objections from some neighbours, Heritage New Zealand and now the national water lobby group Bung the Bore.
Okuru Enterprises chairman Peter Roselli, of Westport, said today the water they were looking to export - via a 12km pipeline to Neils Beach and then out to waiting tankers in Jackson Bay - had been falling for millions of year and running out to sea.
Roselli said the pipeline would be under land and the seabed.
"You can't see anything," he said, referring to criticism it could ruin tourism and the World Heritage Area.
The proposed holding tanks would be on private land at Neils Beach and screened by trees.
Roselli said media photos linking the water exports with the Jackson Bay wharf were wrong, as it went nowhere near there.
"The pipeline would go through Neils Beach and the floor of the ocean."
It would pass under DoC land and DoC head office had agreed the payment from that would go towards helping kiwi recovery.
"Everyone wants to screw down the West Coast. It happened with gold. It happened with coal. Then the trees."
Roselli said nothing had changed in the many years Okuru had held the consents.
However, the company had complained to the Government about the time it was taking for the Westland District Council to process the consent renewal.
"They are holding it up."
National water lobby group Bung the Bore has vowed to protest the venture.
Bung the Bore, led by Ashburton woman Jen Branje, says it plans to lobby the consent hearing set for February 24, in Haast.
"West Coast company Alpine Pure (Okuru Enterprises Ltd) have been hatching a plan since 1991 to take 800 litres per second from Tuning Fork Creek on the West Coast and store it in huge tanks at Haast. They will then pipe the water approximately 5km offshore to waiting ocean tankers," the lobby group said.
"This group of West Coast opportunists will make billions and billions of dollars from our pristine resource, which flows off the back of Mt Aspiring National Park."
Branje was also appalled that Alpine Pure was also using the World Heritage status of the Tuning Fork Creek source as a marketing tool.
"The selling off of our natural resources by a select few is becoming far too frequent. We see New Zealand water as a communal resource ... nobody owns water so why should someone be able to profit off it?" Ms Branje said.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said today he had not received any negative feedback on the proposal.
"They have the full consents for 25 years."
The new approvals sought by the district council are for vegetation clearance and earthworks associated with the construction and maintenance of a water export facility including holding tanks, storage ponds and intake and discharge pipelines over a 14ha private property.
- Greymouth Star