A proposal that would allow protected land to be flooded for the proposed Ruataniwha Dam in Hawke's Bay is unlawful, Forest and Bird says.
Consent applications for the $600 million irrigation scheme spearheaded by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council are still before a board of inquiry.
Under the proposal, 22 hectares of land in the Ruahine Forest Park would have its protection status removed so it can be flooded as part of the 450 hectare water storage lake.
But Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said the Conservation Act did not allow for disposal or exchange of protected land.
He said plans to set aside another section of land for conservation purposes also conflicted with the Conservation Act and the proposal was a long shot.