26 Jun 2014

Ruataniwha decision may be delayed

6:52 am on 26 June 2014

A decision on the controversial Ruataniwha dam could be delayed for months because Hawke's Bay Regional Council may launch a legal challenge against a Board of Inquiry final decision.

The board gave draft approval for resource consents to be given to the Ruataniwha dam but also introduced limits on nitrogen leaching into waterways. Its final decision is set to be released this week.

On Wednesday, Hawke's Bay Regional Council voted to invest $80 million of ratepayers money in the water storage project, conditional on councillors being satisfied with the business case.

The regional council has admitted the $600 million water storage project is not viable under the Board of Inquiry's draft decision because of the strict environmental standards it sets.

Regional council chief executive Liz Lambert said any final vote on investing in the dam could be delayed by a court challenge to the board's final decision.

The council would not comment on whether it was preparing a legal challenge, but Radio New Zealand understands it is preparing to go to the High Court.

The proposed Ruataniwha dam site.

The proposed Ruataniwha dam site. Photo: SUPPLIED