A long-running legal battle to overturn consents allowing two companies to extract billions of litres of water from Christchurch aquifers has been won by anti-water bottling campaigners.
In a newly-released judgement, the Court of Appeal has quashed a decision by Environment Canterbury (ECan) allowing Cloud Ocean Water Ltd and Rapaki Natural Resources Ltd to extract billions of litres of water each year.
In late 2017, ECan granted consents to the two companies to take up to 24 million litres of water per day from shallow aquifers beneath Belfast.
ECan granted the consents without public notification – prompting Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) to launch a legal challenge.
And although the group failed two years ago to get the High Court onside, the Court of Appeal said today that the consents granted to Cloud Ocean and Rapaki were "not lawfully granted".
It says that the 2020 High Court decision, along with the council's decisions granting consents, should be set aside.
It means that Cloud Ocean and Rapaki are no longer have the consents to carry on their bottling operation.
AWA spokesman Peter Richardson says the decision is "testament to the relentless support of the public".
He says it has been a "long wait for the public who have strongly backed the group's legal challenge" and donated funds to help the court case proceed.
March to Save Our Water, held in March 2019, saw thousands of people march through Christchurch which the group said reflected the huge public concern. The court action was also assisted by a $50,000 grant from Christchurch City Council.
AWA is now considering how the decision may affect other situations and consents involving the taking and use of groundwater, particularly in Canterbury.
Richardson said that the court case is extremely important for the future of water security in Aotearoa.
"Parts of New Zealand are already experiencing water shortages," he said.
"We need to make sure we are protecting our water for future generations."