Opportunities for 'struggling economy' lost if Chinese water bottling plant expansion in Whakatāne fails, court hears

A Whakatāne court has heard opportunities for a "struggling economy" would be lost should the expansion of an existing water bottling plant not go ahead.

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Creswell NZ, owned by Nongfu, was granted consent in 2016 by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to install a new bore for testing purposes at Otakiri Springs.

The Environment Court is hearing evidence from experts called by Creswell New Zealand on the second day of a week-long hearing in Whakatāne.

Creswell New Zealand plans to expand Otakiri Springs.

It was granted consent by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to take more than a billion litres of water a year.

Under the proposal, it could produce 1800 bottles of water a minute.

The water would be bottled on-site, using glass and recycled plastics, It would also have the capacity to produce plastic bottles, to be sold here and overseas.

Lawyer for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Mary Hill, told the court consent for the expansion was granted by independent commissioners engaged by the Whakatāne District Council and BOP Regional Council.

She says three appeals were lodged following that decision, but only Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa’s appeal remains.

Legal submissions looked at Proposed Plan Change 9 (PC9) a two-stage approach to improving water quality and management.

In her submissions Ms Hill says "planners have agreed that PC9 should be given significant weight in this case".

Ms Hill says "it is not disputed that the physical effects of the take can be appropriately managed through conditions of consent.

"There is conflicting tikanga evidence, including evidence which supports the grant of consent on the basis that metaphysical effects can be addressed and cultural relationships provided for through the grant of consent," she says.

Ms Hill told the court expansion at Otakiri Springs has "positive benefits" to the local economy.

And she says significant employment opportunities would be lost if the project did not proceed.

Tomorrow the court moves to a marae in Whakatāne.