Same report, different stories

Last Friday the Board of Inquiry issued their draft report into the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. It is unchanged from the previous draft report, and essentially kills off the dam because the proposal was so flawed in the first place, environmentally and financially.

Not so you’d notice though. The HB Today on Saturday heralded the report as the next step in getting the dam through.

The promoters of the Ruataniwha dam say a draft board of inquiry decision released today is a “major positive milestone” for the Central Hawke’s Bay irrigation scheme.

The board’s latest decision – amending a handful of resource consent conditions for the scheme and to a related plan change for the Tukituki catchment – follows a High Court challenge to the board’s earlier decision, issued last year.

The challenges – from Fish & Game, Forest & Bird, and the Environmental Defence Society – related to the board’s approach to the management of nitrogen in surface waters within the Tukituki catchment.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company, the commercial arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the promoter of the Ruataniwha scheme, said today’s decision indicated the board of inquiry intended to grant what HBRIC believed would be “useable production land use consent conditions for the RWSS”.

Obtaining a “workable environmental consent” from the board of inquiry is one of four conditions required by the regional council to satisfy a planned investment of up to $80 million of ratepayers’ money in the scheme.

Of course the HB Today is owned by the same company that owns The NZ Herald so we can’t expect too much, you know like, comprehension. On the one hand the HBRIC claims victory from an unchanged report on environmental protections. But Forest & Bird claims vindication for their High Court challenge.  

Fish & Game environmental manager Corina Jordan said the decision “looks like another brilliant victory for us”.

And reading the draft report it certainly is a brilliant victory for Fish & Game…and not for the HBRC.

Tom Belford gives a sensible summary that differs significantly from the front page of Saturday’s HB Today.

The Tukituki Board of Inquiry issued a draft decision on Friday aimed at resolving the final form of Plan Change 6, which sets the environmental regulatory regime for the Tukituki catchment, including the proposed Ruataniwha dam, if it proceeds.

In a victory for environmentalists, the BoI affirmed that the DIN limits (regulating nitrogen in the waterways), strongly opposed by HBRIC and the Regional Council, would in fact stand. Most importantly, the BoI made clear that the dam scheme and individual farmers using scheme water would need to operate such that the DIN limits would be met by 2030.

To that end, a monitoring, reporting and review requirement was added as a condition to the consents earlier granted. If this monitoring indicates the DIN limit is being exceeded, then HBRIC must identify specific actions that will be taken by irrigator-landowners to ensure compliance.

In short, farmers using dam water must meet the new DIN limits within fifteen years. The Regional Council is also required to review the nitrogen leaching limits in Plan Change 6 to ensure that the DIN limit is on a trajectory to being met.

With the DIN limit firmly in place, HBRIC must now argue, reversing its position when the BoI originally proposed the DIN limit, that the dam consents with these conditions are now indeed ‘workable’.

HBRIC must now convince CHB farmers that they needn’t worry about meeting DIN limits in the far away future, and can therefore feel secure entering long term water purchase agreements.

HBRIC chief Andrew Newman began the renewed water sales campaign on that note in the weekend HB Today, commenting that 2030 was “a long, long way from now. We believe farming practices and technology will improve substantially over that period of time in relation to nutrient management.”

In other words, sell 35-year water contracts and pour the concrete now, and hope for the best in terms of meeting environmental requirements in the future. Effectively, to reassure the public and to sell its water contracts, HBRIC must convince farmers that a rescue party will arrive before 2030.

In contrast, dam advocate and Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis called the BoI decision “a far from practical outcome” and said: “We believe nutrient limits set for the Tukituki system remain unrealistic for what is a productive working agricultural landscape.” He apparently failed to get the ‘all’s well message memo’ from Andrew Newman.

Don’t you just love these Irrigation guys…they are concerned the Board of Inquiry is trying to protect a waterway that they and the Regional Council want to degrade to worse than it is now. Talk about selling the ratepayers and citizens short.

Andrew Newman and Fenton “Jong Un” Wilson should be run out of town for their betrayal of the ratepayers in pushing this socialist dam that will destroy a river so a few  farmers can personally benefit.

Luckily it is local body elections next year, and it is likely a deeply personal campaign will be run against Fenton Wilson to rinse him.

Right now though Fenton Wilson is presiding over a North Korean style council with Andrew Newman playing Boss Hogg.

 

 

– HB Today, Bay Buzz


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