NZ King Salmon proposal referred to Board of Inquiry

  • Nick Smith
  • Kate Wilkinson
Conservation Environment

The New Zealand King Salmon Company Limited’s (NZKS) proposal to establish eight new salmon faming sites in the Marlborough Sounds has been sent directly to an independent Board of Inquiry under the Government’s nationally significant proposal process with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson and Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“NZKS’s proposal involves two plan change requests and nine resource consent applications for eight new salmon farming sites in Pelorus Sound, Port Gore, Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound,” Ms Wilkinson says. 

“This is a large expansion and meets the national significance criteria as it would involve considerable use of natural resources and impact an area of national significance and its environment.

“These effects need to be weighed up alongside the economic benefits and therefore I am directing this proposal to an independent Board of Inquiry for consideration.

“A Board of Inquiry, chaired by an Environment Court Judge and comprising members with local knowledge and relevant technical expertise and experience, is the most appropriate way to assess the merits of the proposal and decide its future.”

Environment Court Judge Gordon Whiting will chair the Board of Inquiry. The Board members are Edward Ellison, Helen Beaumont, Mark Farnsworth and Michael Briggs.

The proposal will be considered under recent aquaculture legislative amendments that allow for plan change requests and resource consent applications in relation to aquaculture to be made concurrently, where aquaculture is currently a prohibited activity.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says that the new nationally significant proposal process with the EPA was delivering real benefits for the community.

“The Board of Inquiry process for considering this proposal will provide an opportunity for all interested parties to have their views considered, while ensuring a robust and timely decision is made,” Dr Smith says.

“The Board of Inquiry will now determine whether to accept or reject the plan change request.  Should the board accept the request it will be prepared by Marlborough District Council.  The complete proposal (plan change requests and resource consent applications) will be publicly notified by the EPA in 2012.”

Board of Inquiry biographies

Judge Gordon Whiting (Chairperson)

Judge Gordon Whiting was appointed to the Environment Court in 1997. As a District Court and Environment Court Judge, he brings extensive judicial expertise and a wide range of experience in resource management law.

Judge Whiting has presided over a number of significant and varied resource management cases, including those related to coastal issues and sensitive landscapes.  Many of the cases have not only had economic impacts, but have also involved cases with conflicting public and private interests.  He chaired the Te Mihi Geothermal Power Station Board of Inquiry and the Tauhara II Geothermal Power Station Board of Inquiry (the first direct application to the EPA to be heard by a Board of Inquiry). 

Helen Beaumont

Helen Beaumont was appointed as a Environment Commissioner in August 2007. She is familiar with environmental legislation, including plan changes, and relevant case law.  Helen is also familiar with hearings processes, including evidence, and is experienced in writing decisions.  She has mediation qualifications and experience and is an effective communicator.  Helen’s qualifications are in the field of chemistry, with research interests focusing on environmental health and the connections between the quality of the environment and human well-being.

From 2000 to 2007 Helen was the Assistant Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Mark Farnsworth

Mark Farnsworth is an experienced Resource Management Act practitioner and has extensive experience in the Local Government sector. He recently completed a nine year term as Chairman of the Northland Regional Council and also chaired the Hearing Committee for six years during his term.


Mark has had involvement in a variety of consent applications including marinas, aquaculture applications, water abstraction and jetty/coastal boardwalk.  He was on the Ministry for the Environment’s Advisory Board regarding the implementation of the Making Good Decisions Programme and is an accredited Resource Management Act hearings commissioner.

Mark has also had roles on the Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group and a Ministerial Advisory Panel on Aquaculture.

Edward Ellison

Edward Ellison is an accredited Resource Management Act hearings Commissioner and has acted in this capacity for several South Island local authorities, including Marlborough District Council and Environment Canterbury. He has also been on a number of central government advisory groups and boards in relation to biosecurity, the Emissions Trading Scheme, cultural matters and water management.

He is currently Chair of Te Runanga o Otakou (Otago Peninsula), Kai Tahu ki Otago Ltd (papatipu runanga owned environmental consultancy) and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu `Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Committee’. Marlborough District Council recommended him as a board member for this proposal.

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs is an experienced Resource Management Act practitioner and was an elected member of the Marlborough County and District Councils between 1980 and 2001. From 1992 to 2001 he was Chairman and Deputy Chairman of a number of Council Committees, including the Environment and Resource Hearings Committees.

He currently serves as an Independent Resource Consent Hearings Commissioner for the Marlborough District Council including having responsibility for signing off on non-notified resource consent decisions.  Michael is an accredited Resource Management Act hearings commissioner. Marlborough District Council recommended him as a board member for this proposal.