The dodgy socialist dam is officially dead

ex-Chairman Fenton “Jong-Un” Wilson

The dodgy socialist dam is officially dead.

The Ruataniwha dam has been declared dead in the water by the council that has spent millions of dollars developing it.

Through its investment company, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has spent several years and about $20m planning a water storage scheme to irrigate drought-prone land on the Ruataniwha Plains in Central Hawke’s Bay.

But the project suffered a major setback last week when the Supreme Court ruled a land-swap required to free up conservation estate land required for the scheme had not been legal.

After the court ruling, the Government signalled it was prepared to legislate around the decision, but a regional council committee was told on Wednesday that such a process could take up to two years, if it happened at all.

Council chief executive James Palmer told the meeting of the environment and service committee the future of the scheme was now “deeply uncertain” and it “looks less likely than ever before to proceed in the short to medium term”.

Councillors were even more emphatic that the project would not proceed.

“The dam is dead. There’s no question about that,” Neil Kirton said. “The reality is it’s all over.

Peter Beaven said the Supreme Court had delivered a “fatal blow” to the project and “we need to face up to that reality”.

“I feel like we’ve got a dying beast in front of us that we need to euthanise,” he said.

While using the Public Works Act to acquire the land at the centre of the Supreme Court decision had been floated as an option, Tom Belford said six of nine councillors had indicated they opposed compulsory acquisition, so the project could not proceed.

Wednesday’s committee meeting resolved to request the council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), to provide advice on the merits, or otherwise, of further investment in the scheme.

The committee also asked HBRIC to outline the implications of the council shelving the scheme, so the council could consider whether to remove a planned future $60m investment in the scheme from its long-term plan.

Good job. The plan should never have been progressed and neither should the council have spent and estimated $25m progressing a fatally flawed and illegal plan in the first place.

If ex-Chairman Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson had any integrity he’d  fall on his sword and resign from the council.



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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.

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