[15 May/Stuff NZ]

The Government has launched an investigation into how the Otago Regional Council is dealing with the issue of 100-year old Central Otago water rights. Minister for the Environment David Parker wants to know if the council has an appropriate planning framework and resources to be able to consider all applications for new water permits before old ones expire in 2021. According to the investigation terms of reference, about 300 of historical water permits remain, many of which relate to farm operations, vineyards and large irrigation schemes. The council failed in an attempted to set a minimum flow rates for the rivers last year. The minimum flows would provide a framework for the new consents. A conclusion on the investigation is expected before September 3.