Why is Maggie Barry trying to take 22ha from protected conservation land?

Who would ever have thought that a conservation minister would be going to the Supreme Court in order to remove 22ha of protected forest in order to build a dam and flood the park.

An environmental organisation is seeking support ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Today environmental organisation Forest & Bird released a video showing “some of the public conservation land which will be destroyed if a land swap allowing New Zealand’s largest irrigation dam goes ahead”.

The land in question is 22ha of the Ruahine Forest Park, which has been subject to a legal battle over a proposed land swap.

In September the Court of Appeal upheld a Forest and Bird appeal which argued the land swap of the 22 hectares of the Ruahine Forest Park, for 170ha of land the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) would potentially buy from Smedley Station, was unlawful. ? Read more »

There’s no mystery, he was an arsehole and refused to work with new councillors

The HB Today thinks it is a mystery as to why the CE of HBRIC has resigned in a huff.

Mystery surrounds the resignation of the man driving the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Yesterday it was announced the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company chairman Dr Andy Pearce had stepped down.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), is the investment arm of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, and has been driving the controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS).

Dr Pearce had chaired the company since its formation in 2012. He was unable to be reached for comment yesterday.

In a statement on behalf of HBRIC, Dr Pearce was said to have been a driving force behind its strategy to grow the Hawke’s Bay economy. ?? Read more »

Dickhead council staff piss off new council

From the merry band of halfwits who completely alienated possible opponents of the dodgy socialist dam so much?that they are fighting a lot harder.

Regional Chairman Rex Graham has taken council staff to task for not working with councillors on the Havelock North water crisis.

Graham raised the issue at today?s (Wednesday) Regional Planning Committee meeting, which was held in front of a packed public gallery.

?There has been a lot of publicity around the Havelock water issue and we are taking a bit of flack around that,? Graham told staff.

?And it just concerns me that the governance have not been involved in any of these decisions that have taken place.?

The Chairman said this was not the first time governors had raised the issue of staff not working with them.

?I would just like to note we do want to be involved and informed of what the next steps of what the next steps of our executive [who are working on this],? he said.

?[Just] so we don?t get caught out when we read the paper or get rung by somebody else.?

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Dodgy Socialist Dam project under review

The new Hawkes Bay Regional Council has voted to conduct an independent review of the dodgy socialist dam project.

Applause sounded in a packed Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chamber yesterday, when it was unanimously agreed a review would be conducted on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

While the atmosphere in the first ordinary council meeting grew tense at times – all councillors stated they welcomed the review.

Among other recommendations, they agreed to commission an independent review of key contractual, legal, financial, economic, and environmental elements of the RWSS, including the impacts and consequences of implementing plan change six with, and without it, as well as withdrawal from the scheme.

Returning Councillor Neil Kirton – who called a moratorium on action relating to the dam on election day – said this was an “important step for this incoming council”.

After being “disenfranchised” with the process, he said constituents wanted the project to be reviewed, “they do want a pause, they do want a cup of tea, and they want to see the facts on the table”.

He and other councillors voiced the opinion they could not advocate a withdrawal from the scheme at this stage.

The review’s scale and particular details around work packages would be brought back to council in its meeting on November 30.

Yesterday councillors also agreed to consult with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) board of directors on issues stemming from any direction to suspend activities relating to the scheme, by way of a shareholder’s resolution to modify the company’s Statement of Intent (SOI).

Chair Andy Pearce said the company welcomed the review which would give councillors an opportunity “to carefully consider council’s position and have a consolidated view of all the information”. HBRIC would assist with the review.

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Will the HBRC cut funding to the Dodgy Socialist Dam?

Chairman Fenton ?Jong-un? Wilson reckons the dodgy socialist dam can?t be stopped.

[T]he council?s acting chairman Fenton Wilson said regardless of how any new councillors viewed the project, there was little any new council body could do until the critical Supreme Court case now in play was resolved.

That concerned the land swap where 22ha of Department of Conservation land on the dam site was being exchanged for 170ha of private land.

The Court of Appeal overturned a decision allowing that to happen and DOC and the Hawke?s Bay Regional Investment Company were appealing against that decision in the Supreme Court.

An outcome of that decision was not expected until next year.

?The Supreme Court decision has a very wide-ranging impact, not only upon the dam project but for other DOC land swaps proposed around the country.

?That includes the relocation of Franz Joseph village due to natural hazards ? it can?t happen without approval on that land.?

Wilson dismissed any talk about the election result requiring a moratorium on the dam?s construction.

?The decision had already been made by the council and we have a large institutional investor waiting in the wings for the court case to be resolved. The dam had been dealt with prior to the election.?

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An economist on the exit strategy for the Dodgy Socialist Dam

The election results over the weekend have pretty much killed off the Ruataniwha dam proposal.

The count against the dam stands at 6-3 in the new Council, with Neil Kirton calling for a moratorium.

Economist Peter Fraser suggests an exit strategy:

It’s the first time in living memory I’ve ever agreed with anything Neil Kirton has said, but he’s right this time about the need to get ‘ducks in a row’. Here’re some suggestions of what those ducks need to look like:

1. Elect a new Chair – with options like Rex Graham, Rick Barker et al. the new council is spoilt for choices.
2. Write to HBRIC Chair Andy Pearce instructing HBRIC to immediately desist from pursuing any further legal action challenging to the CoA decision regarding the status of 22 Ha of conservation land.
3. Write to Conservation Minister Barry stating neither HBRC nor its agents will be joining with her application to seek leave in order to Appeal the CoA ruling and to the contrary, that in light of the election result will oppose any such application in Court.
4. Write to DoC Director General Sanson stating that HBRC will oppose any attempt by the Department to downgrade the status of the 22 Ha of conversation land
5. Instruct HBRIC CEO Andrew Newman that all work conducted by HBRIC in supported of the Ruataniwha process be suspended immediately and to report back to the Council, within 20 working days, of a strategy for the Council to terminate this project. ? Read more »

5-4 against moves to 6-3 against the Dodgy Socialist Dam

As predicted Neil Kirton has locked in behind the majority against the Ruataniwha dam.

He isn’t fully locked in, but he can see the writing on the wall.

Returned Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor Neil Kirton will be calling for a moratorium on any Ruataniwha Dam action until the new council has “got all our ducks in a row”.

Mr Kirton, who left the council in 2013 following four terms, is one of its two new Napier councillors – based on the counting of approximately 98 per cent of the returned voting papers.

Excited to be back on council, Mr Kirton said he was looking forward to having a “good crack” at some unfinished business, and some challenges facing the council. ? Read more »

HB Today editorial has a message for Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson

Fenton Wilson thinks the dam is still on, but the editorial in the HB Today points out a few salient facts?about the political reality that he would do well to heed.

One thing about ratepayers is that when they get agitated about a particular issue, they use the next available election to make a statement.

Thus, it can be argued that voters in the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council elections, particularly the Napier and Hastings wards, have voted emphatically against the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

The dam proposal, driven by council officials, was mostly given a green light by a 5-4 majority in favour on the old council. Chairman Fenton Wilson, deputy chair Christine Scott, Napier councillors Alan Dick and Dave Pipe and Central Hawke’s Bay representative Debbie Hewitt ensured that as many boxes as possible were ticked.

The anti-dam councillors, Rex Graham, Peter Beaven, Tom Belford and Rick Barker were always going to be on the losing side.

But, there seems to have been a groundswell building in Napier and Hastings. Increasingly this newspaper started hearing about normally conservative, pro-establishment residents of Napier being strongly opposed to the dam being built.

Some of them were retired accountants, CFOs and businessmen who had done the sums on the back of an envelope and decided that the financial case for the dam did not stack up.

Paul Bailey, until recently a Green Party office holder and avowed anti-dam campaigner, put himself up for election again, having been thumped in the elections three years ago.

This time he has found himself, along with incumbent Alan Dick and former councillor Neil Kirton, elected to the council. Mr Pipe and Ms Scott had not stood for re-election so there were two vacant seats.

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Ways the Dodgy Socialist Dam could be ended

Fenton Wilson reckons his dam juggernaut can’t be stopped despite a change in the council now favouring anti-dam supporters.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson was today reserving judgment on the possibility the election results could can plans for the Ruataniwha water storage dam in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Looking likely to have been re-elected to Wairoa’s sole seat on the council, with a 198-vote preliminary result majority over single challenger Dean Whaanga, Mr Fenton also faces a possible challenge to the chairmanship in a council observers say has dam opponents now holding the balance of power, most notably with the election of Green Party strategist Paul Bailey as one of three representing Napier.

Learning election results while attending a family birthday gathering near Hastings, Mr Wilson, said talk of a reversal of the decisions for the dam to go ahead at a cost of more than $270 million was “cheap.”

“Unravelling decision of Council made over six years doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It’s possible, but improbable. I’ll reserve my judgement.”

Likewise he wasn’t jumping to conclusions about the final election result, reflecting on how at the last election the Council lost some of its veterans between the declarations of a preliminary result and the eventual outcome.

“I’ll roll with the punches at this stage,” he said.

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How dodgy is the dodgy socialist dam?

It appears it is very, very, very dodgy. Bruce Bisset explains in the HB Today:

Bizarre farce, corporate heist, democratic dysfunction – call it what you will, but despite six years in development the facts attempting to explain just how the Ruataniwha water storage scheme will work and who must shoulder the cost if it doesn’t are only just beginning to emerge.

And, as sick of the entire mess as we might be, all Hawke’s Bay ratepayers will be sicker once they understand what those facts are – because your wallets, dear readers, and your town and country assets, are on the line.

And this is the point: most people in Hawkes Bay, those who will have?to pay for it, don’t know the full story.

Yes, I mean mortgaging the Port of Napier. That’s already a done deal. I have heard that it was apparently a done deal back in 2009 when, after talks with Alan Dick, the Minister of Finance had the clear impression port monies would pay for the RWSS.

And yes, I mean the extensive and expensive irrigation systems farmers taking water from the scheme will install, because the whole shebang could implode if it can’t be made – every year of its working life – to meet the environmental and other conditions stipulated by the Board of Inquiry.

Currently, despite what some might have you believe, the ability of the scheme to meet those conditions is very uncertain, in part because the regional council has not instigated the independent expert panel it was required to set up to review aspects of the scheme as it progressed – such as the (revised) dam design.

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