Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

Fat Tony is on fire

Mike Williams, affectionately known as "Fat Tony"

Mike Williams, affectionately known as “Fat Tony”

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is on fire. His latest column in the HB Today is about holding the ratbags in the Hawkes Bay to account these elections.

It looks like the Hawke’s Bay water contamination scandal and the proposed Ruataniwha dam scheme have morphed into one issue in many people’s minds and will influence the outcome of the local elections.

The revelation that unconsented feedlots with unknown numbers of livestock have been established along our rivers is enough to make a mockery of the desperate attempts of dam supporters and irrigation fanatics to convince us that cows can’t be responsible for the gastro bug that afflicted so many.

Those who have developed an interest in the dam plan, whether for or against, should take the time to read the Court of Appeal decision that has stopped the scheme in its tracks. This decision is easily accessible and can be found as the last published decision in August this year on the Court of Appeal website.

The full title of the decision is “Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated v Minister of Conservation”.

The legal background to this action comes from the basic design of the dam which, to be financially viable, must flood two pieces of land amounting to 22 hectares which are within the Ruahine Forest Park (RFP) and are therefore the responsibility of the Department of Conservation.

The promoters of the dam plan devised a swap whereby DOC would relinquish the required land in return for a bigger piece of land known as the Smedley Block that the dam promoters, The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), would purchase and swap.

This land swap has always been crucial to the scheme. Without the right to inundate these two parts of the RFP, I’m told that any dam would contain less than one third of the capacity of the planned dam.

At that capacity, the scheme is simply not viable. ?

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