Ruataniwha

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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Dodgy Socialist Dam having its dodgy numbers reviewed

The dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council is really trying hard to ram their dodgy dam through before the council makeup changes.

Finally, the council is getting an independent auditor to look at their dodgy numbers, but already there appears to be a $2 million hole to fill.

The Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme’s financial viability will be re-examined by independent auditors after concerns were raised by some Hawke’s Bay Regional councillors last week.

Following an extraordinary Hawke’s Bay Regional council meeting on Friday, council authorised a drawdown of $80million, less development costs, for investment in the scheme.

Council had agreed that three of four conditions required before investment could proceed had been met, and an independent financial review from auditors Deloittes supported the content and conclusions of the business case as being robust.

However yesterday, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson confirmed Deloittes will be re-checking the figures provided by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC).   Read more »

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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Fenton “Jong-Un” Wilson comes up empty

Fenton "Jong-un" Wilson

Oh crap, the plebs want a playground not a dam

Hawkes Bay Regional Council Chairman Fenton “Jong-Un” Wilson faced the slightly embarrassing problem of a public meeting in his own ward, Wairoa, to explain why he is so keen to spend Wairoa money on a dam in Central Hawkes Bay. He got asked a very, very tough question about how the dam was good for Wairoa.

 Fellow constituent Dean Whaanga asked Mr Wilson directly about what the benefits of the dam were for Wairoa.

The chairman, and Wairoa councillor, responded, saying it would help the farming community.

“The other opportunity I saw was how many of a whanau are overseas in Australia,” he said.    Read more »

Federated farmers cop a slaying from economist

The Federated Farmers are moaning like an unpaid hooker that the dodgy socialist dam they want built and paid for by other people isn’t proceeding just as quickly as they’d like.

Further delays to the building of the Ruataniwha Dam are testing the patience of the Hawke’s Bay’s farming community.

Forest and Bird is appealing a decision allowing the Department of Conservation to swap land which is needed to build the dam.

The conservation group is taking the case to the Court of Appeal after it was dismissed by the High Court.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said it’s another delay to a project that has already been subjected to an extensive legal process.

He said it’s a setback for the growth of farming in the region, and not just dairy farming.

“There’s lots of other aspects to farming in the Hawke’s Bay – whether it be grapes, fruit.”

Allen said the dam will provide relief similar to those provided by the Opuha Dam in drought-ridden South Canterbury.

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Why the Ruataniwha Dam is poked

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has been pushing its forlorn dam proposal hard.

I’ve been covering the whole shemozzle for years now but the Council is just pushing ahead.

Quite apart from the environmental concerns and the wrecking of a river to build a dam for a few farmers, there are other issues which explain why it is that farmers aren’t signing up for the water and why the Council is trying to get sneaky water uptake from its subsidiary councils.

Basically, the economics of the business case don’t stack up: not for the ratepayers and also not for the prospective customers of the water.

Economist Peter Fraser explains how it is all related to the dairy industry and the problems that are besetting them:

First and foremost the Government has a competition policy problem in that Fonterra is hamstrung by a milk-pricing manual of its own design that prices milk based on “an imaginary friend” rather than Fonterra’s actual performance – and this imaginary friend is likely to cause more damage to Fonterra than to its competitors. It also reduces the level of contestability in relevant markets, and by favouring static productive efficiency over dynamic efficiency arguably stifles the sector of innovation by reducing firm-level profitability.   Read more »

Dodgy Dam promoters asking for even more cash to prop up the dam

The dodgy socialist dam proposal is costing the ratepayers of Hawkes Bay a pretty penny and that is even before a single sod has been turned.

Now the investment company owned by the Council is asking for even more money.

The regional council is being asked by its own investment company to pony up even more cash, beyond the $80 million-plus it has already set aside for the Ruataniwha dam.

Tomorrow, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) will put a water user agreement in front of councillors, asking them to sign up to the scheme for 35 years.

This “offer” made by the investment company would be in place of the current Foundation Water User Agreements whereby the council has an option but no obligation to buy up to 4 million cubic metres water per year.

So they haven’t met the required sign ups from farmers and now they are trying to get their council to buy the water they are proposing to produce instead. See why I call this dodgy and socialist? They are effectively proposing to spend ratepayers’ cash and have the council buy the water the ratepayers have already paid for. That is a massive subsidy for the dam and of no benefit to the community.   Read more »

Nashy lays out four conditions for his support of the dodgy socialist dam, it fails three of them

Stuart Nash is showing some smarts in looking at the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scam Scheme.

Coming down to Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme’s pointy end of the wedge ” it seems local politicians generally support the dam.

The only rub? Getting farmers to see the value in investing in such a project.

Napier MP Stuart Nash said the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme had to meet four conditions before he would back it.

That the region’s assets would not be put at risk, that the RWSS created a number of “well paid, sustainable jobs”, that it does not turn the Tukituki River toxic and finally, such a scheme needed to be economically viable.

“The last thing we need as ratepayers is a millstone around our neck if farmers who do not see value in this do not sign up,” he said.

“So I am not against it, but the only way I would support it is if it met those four criteria.”

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Dodgy Council sells assets to pay for their dodgy socialist dam

If the business case for the Ruataniwha dam in the Hawkes Bay wasn’t bad enough, then the council’s decision to cash up assets in a firesale to fund the dam is just irresponsible.

They were putting it about last week that they had found an investor…it turns out that the investor is the council themselves with the proceeds from selling housing to ACC.

Leasehold land cashflows sold by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to ACC will fund the Ruataniwha Dam if it goes ahead.

The trade was confirmed by council chairman Fenton Wilson, who said money from the $37 million sale of the council’s income stream would be reinvested into the dam if its certain conditions were met.

“It will be reinvested into Ruataniwha, should it meet its conditions precedent,” Mr Wilson confirmed.

This was supported by comments made by Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company’s (HBRIC) chief executive Andrew Newman.

“It [council] has sold the cash-flows for Napier leasehold land for 50 years and it has the cash in the bank,” he said.

Napier MP Stuart Nash labelled the trade a “fire sale”.

“They undersold it by $100 million,” he said.    Read more »

There are none so deluded as those who won’t read court judgments

Fenton "Jong-un" Wilson

Fenton “Jong-un” Wilson

The High Court, the Environment Court, the Board of inquiry…have all said that there can’t be a land swap of Conservation land for land that would be flooded by the dodgy socialist dam at Ruataniwha. More importantly the HBRC has lost in all of those jurisdictions…and are likely to continue to keep losing. And they will lose if they try to do the land swap.

If you can’t swap the land then the dam is screwed…it is that simple, but the debate struggles on.

From the outset, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company has known that to build the Ruataniwha Dam it needs to destroy 22 hectares of the Ruahine Forest Park.

It has known that this land is nationally significant because of its rarity and quality — it includes intact wetlands, braided riverbed and habitat for endangered species like long-tail bats and red mistletoe. Its advisers will have told it that as this land is deemed to be in the specially protected category of “conservation park”, there is no provision in the Conservation Act for this land to be sold or even swapped.

Commercial activities can operate on conservation land if they obtain a concession from DOC – these are routinely granted for activities from guided treks to telecommunication facilities. But there are strict rules in the Conservation Act to make sure these activities are only allowed where they are consistent with protecting the conservation land.    Read more »