Dated: 24 March 2020
This is NZ Southern Rivers continued request for funding through the Give a Little Platform to take to Judicial Review the Gore District Council’s(GDC) decision to grant a resource consent in November 2019 for a commercial river rafting operator to establish on the Mataura River.
At the heart of the Judicial Review application is QC Pru Stevens Point of Law that if not upheld will enable councils up and down the country to issue resource consents without public notification.
Pru Steven QC:
“The issue raised by the application is a simple one albeit quite significant in terms of a council’s response to similar applications, namely – whether a written approval given by Fish and Game can or ought to have been treated as an approval to the effects on anglers amenity and recreational enjoyment of the river, which is the basis upon which it has been treated by the Council, thus avoiding any form of notification to the large number of anglers who would otherwise want to submit on the application. The High Court would make a ruling on this – one way or another. If we are unable to obtain funding to have this issue determined, the GDC or other councils are likely to continue to accept a written approval from this organisation on the same basis.”
The NZ Southern Rivers Board has applied for Environmental Legal Aid(ELA) which along with the generous support of our legal team allow us to substantially reduce our target. Nonetheless, we still need your financial support.
The Mataura River has been recognised by the National Water Conservation Order (Mataura River Order 1997) as having outstanding fisheries and angling amenity features. After the Tongariro it is New Zealand’s second most heavily fished trout river, and is Nationally and Internationally recognised. The dry fly sight fishing on the Mataura is some of the most spectacular in the world.
The Rafting Proposal has the potential to have significant adverse impacts on the Mataura and its angling amenity due to the disturbances the rafting activity will cause to fish and their feeding behaviours. Brown trout have a sharp sense of sight and are sensitive to movement. The movement of rafts along the river is highly likely to spook the trout and directly affect the ability of anglers to fish. The Mataura River which the rafting operation proposes to use, is a shallow river, significant in that trout will be even more readily disturbed by rafts.
Nonetheless, the Councils granted consent to the proposal on a non-notified basis, meaning anglers and other members of the public did not have the right to have their voices heard. The Councils made these decisions despite not having all the material facts before them by which to do so.
On 12 December 2019 a group of concerned anglers formed the NZ Southern Rivers Society Incorporated (Society), which is a not for profit vehicle with the purpose to protect the long term environmental sustainability of NZ rivers and to commence the litigation outlined above.
The Society believes the Rafting Proposal should have been Publicly Notified to allow it to be subject to sensible and respectful discussion and ensure the interests of anglers were considered.
The engagement of Notifying Lawyers and a Queens Counsel was necessary to file an application in the High Court for a Judicial Review of the GDC which if successful will allow the public to be heard on the proposal.
Your donation to this Give a Little page will help fund the application.