Ratepayers call time on funding the dodgy socialist dam

Ratepayers have had enough and now the Hawkes Bay Regional Council faces a revolt from the ratepayer over the waste of millions of dollars on the dodgy socialist dam.

Regional ratepayers have issued a resounding “no” to spending an extra $36.9 million on the Ruataniwha dam.

Of the 193 submissions made to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s annual plan consultations, which are being heard today and tomorrow, on the long term plan amendment only nine voice “yes” to purchasing additional water upfront for environmental flows.

However, a resounding 92 per cent or 141 from 153 submitters chose Option C, saying they did not want the council to purchase any additional water in the scheme.

The Council isn’t listening though.  

However, HBRIC chairman Andy Pearce said Option A made sound environmental and financial sense.

In his submission, he said the original 2014 plan within the Concession Deed and the dam’s business case had significant financial flaws for several reasons, including that if the council did not annually budget for extra water it would not be able to buy it even if it was a dry year.

Mr Pearce said the alternative proposal would see council contract to take 4 million cubic metres.

“It would include 30 million cubic metres of water provided free for the first six years,” he said.

Mr Pearce said this proposal would provide council with at least as much environmental benefit as the original 2014 plan, with increased economic benefit through its return from its investment in the dam.

But the dam doesn’t make financial sense…it is predicated on unrealistic dairy milk prices, and now huge subsidies by two councils proposing to buy the water instead of the farmers as originally intended.

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Fiona Hartly, whose family has farmed Pourerere Station for two generations, disagreed with Mr Pearce, voicing her support for Option C.

She said on-farm water storage, with farmers taking both investment responsibility and risk, was the norm “out at the coast” and that council did not have a mandate to transfer this risk over to ratepayers for the benefit of 150 farmers.

“The proposed $80 million would be better spent subsidising on-farm water storage for farmers in need throughout Hawke’s Bay.”

Environmentalist Dan Elderkamp also chose Option C, saying the regional council has not presented any scientific details, facts or proof that additional water for the environmental flows is needed, should the dam be built.

“The amount of $36.9 million could be far better allocated to environmental projects across the whole region, not just the Tukituki catchment, considering that all the region’s ratepayers would be contributing to this proposal,” he said.

Four million cubic metres of flow to run down the river that it already runs down is a smoke and mirrors game the council is playing. It is a drop in the ocean, literally, to how much water would be needed for real flushing flows.

Councillor Peter Beaven said the submissions are strongly against the council not having to buy its own water.

“You can’t ignore such overwhelming views, it is a brave council that would do so,” he said.

“I think if we want to go ahead and take water – we have to find a way with HBRIC to factor it into the cost of the dam somehow or the returns that the council gets.”

A councillor who can feel the chill winds of an election blowing. Shame the other councillors don’t seem to feel the breeze.

 

– Hawkes Bay Today


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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