RWSS

Yeah Andrew…and you screwed it up

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber

Andrew Newman is blabbing to media about his volte-face less than 6 months after signing up to be HBRC Chief Executive.

Despite a moratorium, review, and a changed Hawke’s Bay Regional Council sentiment, departing CEO Andrew Newman says he remains optimistic the Ruataniwha Dam will progress.

I’ve got news for you Andrew, and it’s all bad.   Read more »

Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson is going to learn what utu means

The new Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was sworn in yesterday and they have a new chairman after Fenton Wilson discovered the Ruataniwha dam wasn’t really an election winner after all.

Rex Graham has been elected as the new chairman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Rick Barker was voted in as deputy.

This morning, the council’s nine elected regional councillors were sworn in at the inaugural council meeting.

A large crowd gathered at the council’s Napier’s offices where Mr Graham was elected unopposed.

After being nominated by former chairman Fenton Wilson and seconded by Mr Barker, Mr Graham received a unanimous vote.

Mr Barker was nominated by councillor Alan Dick and seconded by councillor Neil Kirton, and was also elected unanimously.

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Fat Tony fires up on the Dodgy Socialist Dam

Labour’s best ever fundraiser and solid operator behind the scene, Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is fired up over the dodgy socialist dam.…and for a socialist that means something.

IT’S THE Local Authority Election season and I hope that given the contaminated water disaster in Havelock North, local voters will be more engaged with the process than they were last time round when only about four in ten eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot.

Having sold my property in Havelock North, I won’t have a vote this time, but as many of my family still makes its home in the Bay, I will be rattling many cages.

I will watch the results of the Regional Council election with great interest.

With the drinking water disaster in Havelock North, the local election should turn into a referendum on water management and as this a Regional Council responsibility; it is that Council that is and should be in the cross-hairs.

Yes, it should. It has become clear that the councils have no control over the waterways, either by design or through indolence and sloppy governance.

At present The Regional Council is divided five votes to four on the on the biggest water project, the proposed Ruataniwha Dam, with a narrow majority in favour of this massive gamble with your money.

The group of Councillors driving the project consists of Alan Dick, David Pipe and Christine Scott representing Napier, Chairman Fenton Wilson from Wairoa and Debbie Hewitt from Central Hawke’s Bay.

They would be desperately hoping that the whole matter was settled before the election which might well upset their plan for the dam.

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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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Dodgy Dam business case in disarray

The dodgy socialist dam business case is in disarray after the HBRC decided to shelve plans to buy their own water…for now.

Last Thursday, five members of the Regional Council shelved — at least for now — the proposal for ratepayers to purchase $36.9 million of water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS).

The lack of any evidence-based case whatsoever for this purchase, plus the opposition of nearly 150 submitters (as against 9 in favour), convinced all but Councillors Debbie Hewitt, Christine Scott and Dave Pipe to effectively table the proposition. Those three persisted that the proposition was a good ‘deal’.

[…]

Some interesting considerations came to light during submissions and the ensuing debate.

First, in reviewing nearly 200 submissions on all aspects of the HBRC’s work, councillors considered numerous requests for funding, in amounts from $5,000 to $300,000. I can say without hesitation that we received far more substantiation for these requests that we did for HBRIC’s $36 million pitch! And we — not happily in many of those cases — rejected most of them. Not for their lack of merit, but to protect the ratepayer’s purse.

Second, the discussions underscored the absence of thought behind the purchase proposition. At one point in his verbal submission, Garth Eyles asked, if the proposal were approved, how water was actually to be supplied to Lake Hatuma (the one example supporters have given as to how enhanced flows might be used). The silence was deafening … no one could answer! Later, during debate, Councillor Scott offered her own cost calculations, arguing that the water purchase would ‘only’ cost $23 million … which merely underscored the argument of skeptics — the half-baked proposition is so poorly conceived there’s not even agreement on its cost to ratepayers!

Third, while HBRIC argued that additional ‘environmental flows’ were hugely important for HBRC to have in its mitigation toolkit, it turns out that these flows could not have priority over the irrigation agreements already signed with 196 or so farmers, since their contracts already promise them the higher priority use of the water. In other words, the supposedly crucial extra environmental flows would play second fiddle to irrigation. One might protest: Who gave HBRIC the authority to make that call on priorities and negotiate away the environment’s right to water?!

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Dodgy conflict of interest issue for dodgy socialist dam is getting serious

Things are heating up now after a clear conflict of interest was discovered over the dodgy socialist dam at Ruataniwha.

Forest & Bird has made a formal complaint to the Auditor General and requested an investigation after it was revealed that a Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor stands to benefit financially if the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme goes ahead.

Councillor Deborah Hewitt asked for an exemption so she could continue to participate in discussions and vote on significant decisions relating to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Councillor Hewitt owns property within the area that could benefit from water supplied by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam and the value of this land is expected to increase if the scheme goes ahead.

The irrigation zone in question appears to have been added to the Scheme in October 2015 and was a key reason the projected cost of the scheme spiralled to almost $900 million earlier this year.   Read more »

More trouble for the Dodgy Socialist Dam

The never ending cock ups from the extremely dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council continue, with complaints about a councillors conflict of interest causing more problems.

It’s been revealed that a Hawke’s Bay Regional councillor could stand to make money if the Council approves a controversial and polluting dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion.

The councillor, Deborah Hewitt, owns a property that falls within the proposed area to be supplied with water from the planned Ruataniwha Dam. The land value of those within this irrigation zone is expected to increase if construction of the dam goes ahead.

It’s understood Hewitt began the process of declaring the conflict of interest yesterday, a day after Greenpeace New Zealand and more than a dozen others requested an official inquiry into the issue following information obtained under the Official Information Act.

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Ratepayers call time on funding the dodgy socialist dam

Ratepayers have had enough and now the Hawkes Bay Regional Council faces a revolt from the ratepayer over the waste of millions of dollars on the dodgy socialist dam.

Regional ratepayers have issued a resounding “no” to spending an extra $36.9 million on the Ruataniwha dam.

Of the 193 submissions made to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s annual plan consultations, which are being heard today and tomorrow, on the long term plan amendment only nine voice “yes” to purchasing additional water upfront for environmental flows.

However, a resounding 92 per cent or 141 from 153 submitters chose Option C, saying they did not want the council to purchase any additional water in the scheme.

The Council isn’t listening though.   Read more »

Dodgy Council’s dodgy consultation for the dodgy dam exposed

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has got to be one of the dodgiest councils in NZ.

Their commitment to the ratepayers is scant. Look at the way they have conducted their ‘public’ consultation over the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

You could be forgiven if you’ve missed it, but June 8 marks the end of HBRC’s public consultation process on the amendments to its Long-Term Plan. These amendments include the proposal for HBRC to buy approximately $40 million of water from its own investment company via the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

That is not a trivial sum of money, but initially five of our regional councillors decided that it was not a significant enough to warrant public consultation.

That is, until there was an outcry and the Auditor-General advised that they must put it in as an amendment to the Long-Term Plan (LTP) and consult with the public.

As part of this “public consultation process”, HBRC organised a series of “Have Your Say” meetings. In Wairoa, the meeting was held at 3-5pm on a Wednesday, and in Havelock North from 2-4pm on a Monday.

What percentage of the population can actually attend at those times? There was no meeting held in Hastings.

When I raised the issue of meeting times, I was told by a member of HBRC staff that if they held the meetings in the evening it would “clash with Coronation Street”.

I asked if they would put more meetings on at more appropriate times for the working population and they said no. I attended both the Havelock North and Napier meetings and there were 11 members of the public present at both. That is a fail for public engagement.

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Dodgy DOC deal appealed in dodgy dam case

The Dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council is still trying to force their dodgy socialist dam through and Forest & Bird is back in the Court of Appeal trying to get the council and DOC to follow the law.

The Court of Appeal has heard Forest & Bird’s appeal against the High Court approval of the downgrade of conservation land for Hawke’s Bay’s $900 million Ruataniwha water storage project.

In February the High Court approved a land swap in the Ruahine Forest Park between the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, to enable the dam to be built.

DoC is proposing exchanging 22 hectares of protected conservation land in Ruahine Forest Park for 170 hectares of farm land.

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