Dam or be damned?
The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s chairman says he’s keen to sit down with growers who have been protesting this week over the council’s water management.
On TV3’s The Nation, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson offered to meet with apple grower and spokesperson for Growers Action Group (GAG) Paul Paynter.
But Mr Paynter said the chat will have to wait until after the local body elections.
“Let’s finish that little scrap and have a chat afterwards, but this is not going away after the election,” Mr Paynter said.
“We would love to sit down, but the engagement with the council is very, very difficult because there’s a lack of information, there’s a lack of trust.”
Mr Paynter and the GAG protest group say the council’s current water restrictions are killing trees, and the council’s proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme won’t help growers at all.
“The Ruataniwha Dam is 50 kilometres south [from the Heretaunga Plain where growing comes from]. Not one drop of water will flow to our growers… it’s been a huge distraction.”
But the location isn’t the only problem critics have with the $265 million proposal. Fish and Game’s resource management co-ordinator Neil Deans says the dam will further damage water quality, which will limit recreational use of the dam.
“The risk is that the intensification of land use will result in even more water quality problems.
“New Zealanders want a healthy economy, but they don’t want it at the expense of the environment.”
Federated Farmers CEO Conor English says the dam will bring 800 jobs and billions of dollars into the region, offering the region more choice.
When asked if it was “dam or be damned” he said he didn’t think there were other options.
“If it [Hawke’s Bay] doesn’t want to have this dam it will end up paying the consequences of that, and don’t expect the young people to say in Hawke’s Bay if you don’t have this dam.”