Calls for stronger environmental laws as NZ alpine water to be shipped overseas

There are calls for stronger environmental laws following a spat in Westland over bottled water rights.

Okuru Enterprises wants to take glacial water from South Westland and export it overseas using bulk water tankers anchored off Neils Beach in Jackson Bay/Okahu.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage says the local community has been gagged.

"Neither the Westland District Council nor the Westland Regional Council are allowing the public to have a say. Water is a public resource, yet the councils are using the RMA to shut the public out from having a say," she told Newshub.

"We've got the National Government proposing further changes which will shut out the public even more often. We need environmental law which allows people to have a say, and we need much stronger bottom lines to protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers."

But Westland Mayor Bruce Smith told Newshub West Coasters are sick of their properties being flooded.

"We spend a whole heap of ratepayer money protecting ourselves from the water they are trying to sell. So we are pretty familiar with water."

The Mayor had previously told RNZ he would "go so far as to say" there was no opposition to the project. But it's emerged that isn't quite accurate.

The application for consent for a 12-kilometre pipeline and 14-hectare storage infrastructure was processed with limited public notification to 12 parties. Three parties submitted, two of which spoke at the hearing.

Lesley Davies, who owns a bach at Neils Beach, said the application should have been publically notified.

"We are concerned about extra traffic movements, noise, dust and clearance of native vegetation in an important wetland. The area is a nesting habitat for penguins and the Haast kiwi," she told Fairfax.

Another local said the storage facility would end up right in front of her holiday home, and she would no longer want to live there if the project goes ahead.

When Newshub asked Mr English about it on Saturday, he told us he "didn't know anything about the proposal".