9 Jul 2016

Ruataniwha Dam 'far from a done deal'

7:08 am on 9 July 2016

Greenpeace is vowing to do everything possible to stop the Ruataniwha Dam from being built, with Hawke's Bay Regional Council yet to sign off on the project.

The proposed Ruataniwha Dam would be built on this site in Hawke's Bay.

The proposed Ruataniwha Dam would be built on this site in Hawke's Bay. Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

Hawke's Bay Regional Council is still yet to sign off on spending $80 million of public money on the controversial dam, as it waits for final confirmation of investor interest.

At an extraordinary meeting on Friday, the council debated four conditions that had to be met in order for the dam to go ahead.

The council was satisfied they had the necessary consents to proceed, had settled on fixed-price design and construction contracts, and enough farmers had signed up to the water uptake.

The council believed the fourth condition - requiring potential investors to fully assess the risks of their involvement - would be satisfied by August.

The dam has been a hot topic, with the Green Party, the Labour Party, Forest & Bird, and Greenpeace all objecting to its construction.

Forest & Bird and Greenpeace are both taking legal action to stop the dam being built.

Agricultural campaigner for Greenpeace New Zealand, Genevieve Toop said they would do everything they could to stop the dam from being built.

"The Ruataniwha Dam has been dogged by controversy: We've seen huge public opposition, two private investors have pulled out, and both Greenpeace and Forest & Bird are in an ongoing court battle with HBRIC [Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd] and the council over resource consent, and access to conservation land", she said.

"This dam is far from a done deal."

Ms Toop said the dam would be a waste of public money and an environmental hazard.

But Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said the dam would be a "game changer" for Hawke's Bay, and good for the country as a whole.

"It's going to revitalise those towns, make them look a lot more like Ashburton and Timaru," he said.

"Much of the produce that's going to get grown is going to come up and be processed in a growing range of processors in the Hastings area. This then has a flow-on for the national economy."

Regional council chair Fenton Wilson said he respected protesters' concerns, but he was confident the dam would be a boon.

"There's always a tension between our economy and our environment, (but) sustainability means an economy that's sustainable, as much as a sustainable environment."

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