As predicted, the Dodgy Socialist Dam bites the dust

The Dodgy Socialist Dam is finally dead. The Supreme Court dealt it a death blow yesterday.

The appeal to allow a land exchange for Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha Dam has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The court was considering whether the Department of Conservation could swap 22ha of the Ruahine Forest Park for 170ha of private farm land.

The protected conservation land needs to be flooded for the country’s largest irrigation project to go ahead.

Justice Susan Glazebrook said in Wellington this morning that most of the Supreme Court judges have affirmed an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal.

A group of people opposing the land swap gathered outside the court room after the decision, sharing hugs. One woman was jumping in excitement.

Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled the land swap was illegal, so the Conservation Minister took the case to the Supreme Court.

And she lost. She should resign.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council would invest $80 million in the project if it goes forward.

Forest & Bird, which successfully appealed the deal, claims it could put millions of hectares of other protected land under threat from private development.

This issue has nationwide significance for all forest parks and how they are protected in law, Forest & Bird said.

In 2015, DoC reclassified 22ha of Ruahine Forest Park as stewardship land, to make the land available for the Ruataniwha dam.

Had DoC’s reclassification stood, it would have created a legal precedent affecting all Forest Parks in New Zealand, Forest & Bird said.

“Many of these areas have economically valuable resources, such as water, gold, minerals, etc. All these areas will lose the strong protection they currently have, and instead become available to commercial interests.

This project was doomed from the start, and this proves it. The Hawkes Bay Regional Council spent tens of millions of dollars pursuing a plan that had a fatal flaw…it was illegal to swap land out of the Conservation Estate.

There should be heads on pikes for this, but the easiest head to lop off is Maggie Barry’s, she is the minister who authorised her department to challenge this in the Supreme Court after DoC was rinsed in the Court of Appeal.

The promoters of the Dodgy Socialist Dam have now lost every single legal challenge, proving their management and decision making was awful from the get go.

I imagine the Forest & Bird lawyer was as noble in victory as Darryl Kerrigan:

Speaking of dickheads, Bill English reckons he will change the law as a result:

Minutes after the Supreme Court ruled against plans for a huge dam in the Hawke’s Bay, Prime Minister Bill English said his Government would change the law to allow such projects to go ahead.

In a major victory for conservation group Forest & Bird, the court dismissed an appeal by the Department of Conservation to swap 22ha of conservation land for 170ha of private farmland.

The land swap would have allowed the Ruahine Forest Park land to be flooded to create the country’s largest irrigation project.

English, speaking to NewstalkZB, immediately said Parliament would have to consider a law change.

“This will become a matter now for whether we change the legislation.

Everyone thought the legislation meant that you could trade a lower conservation piece of land in return for higher conservation piece of land.

Everyone but you Bill…and Maggie.

The Supreme Court apparently, on the face of it, is telling us that that’s not what the legislation lets you do.

“But it is eminently sensible to increase the net conservation value by trading away higher value for lower value conservation land.

Asked whether Parliament would change the law, he said: “Yes. Because it wouldn’t make sense to take this flexibility out of the system.”

Forest & Bird’s win in the Supreme Court came after a five-year legal battle.

Chief executive Kevin Hague urged the Government to respect the Supreme Court’s decision.

Any attempt to change the law will be met with the same determination from Forest & Bird as the Minister of Conservation’s illegal land-swap was.

The court’s ruling set an important precedent, he said.

“Thanks to this ruling, all of New Zealand’s forest parks are protected from development. That is up to one million hectares of conservation land that have been rescued from commercial interests by this precedent-setting decision.”

What a fool. His government department just got their arse handed to them on a plate, and he suggests he will change the law.

Well, let’s look how he would go about that. He will need support, but where will he get that from?

The Greens won’t support legislation to swap out land in the Conservation Estate. I doubt Labour would either. Peter Dunne will see this as an opportunity to grandstand and ACT’s vote won’t be enough, and Seymour will likely grandstand too. That leaves the Maori party, and Maori were some of the biggest opponents of this dam and they will also position themselves as protectors of the Conservation Estate. That leaves Winston, and I doubt he would support this as he is on a tour of provincial New Zealand at the moment, and his position has never been for intensification of farm land.

So buggered if I know how Bill English will change the legislation, and considering he will be in a worse negotiating position come September I suggest this is total horseshit.

In any case the dam is rooted and no law change will resurrect that project.


-NZ Herald

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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.  And 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 that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.