Green light for huge water extraction project on West Coast

A group of West Coast locals wanting to extract millions of litres of New Zealand's most pristine water have been given the go-ahead.

Okuru Enterprises hatched the plan to extract water from Mt Aspiring National Park in 1990, but came up against various obstacles, including UNESCO, which opposed the taking of water from inside a national park.

On Friday, resource consent was finally granted, with independent commissioner Don Turley deciding the activity was unlikely to have an adverse effect on the environment.

The company plans to build a 14ha storage facility at Neils Beach and a 12km underground pipeline to pipe the water to ships anchored off Jackson Bay.

In his decision, Mr Turley noted the proposal will "add a significant positive activity" to the Neils Beach area by providing employment opportunities both in the construction and ongoing operation of the storage facility.

The water will be taken from Tuning Fork Creek, a tributary of Arawata River, and from a point that's outside the national park.

Okuru Enterprises has consent to extract 800,000 tonnes of water – about 800 million litres – each month.

Westland District Council and West Coast Regional Council both decided effects of the project would be minor and the applications did not need to be publicly notified.

Of the 15 affected parties notified and invited to lodge submissions, two holiday home owners objected at a hearing last month.

They have now been advised of their right to lodge an appeal with the Environment Court.