Preliminary hearing next step in fight against water bottling

A preliminary hearing in the High Court on October 2 is set to address a water action group’s bid to stop two companies taking water from sites in Belfast then selling it overseas.

Aotearoa Water Action is contesting Environment Canterbury’s decision to grant resource consents to bottling companies Cloud Ocean Water and Rapaki Natural Resources.

AWA opposes an argument from the bottling companies that they did not need new consents to take the water, which could see up to 24 million litres a day removed.

The consents are based on historical permits for the Silver Fern Farms works and the Kaputone Wool Scour.

Said AWA spokesman Peter Richardson: “The companies say they are entitled to rely on the previous plant owners’ use consents, but those consents were for entirely different purposes – wool scouring and meat processing. We don’t think that’s right.”

“ECan correctly required these companies to apply for new consents, although in our view it then processed the consents unlawfully,” he said.

If AWA is successful, there will be a further hearing at a later date on whether the consents were granted legally by ECan.

The Bottle Off! campaign has been created to support the legal action and an online PledgeMe campaign has raised more than $40,000.

A petition with about 115,000 signatures calling for the end of foreign companies selling bottled Christchurch water was handed to ECan in April.