Hawke's Bay Council committee seeks advice on whether to shelve Ruataniwha scheme

The government is now considering a law change to allow land swaps.

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council committee has asked the council's investment company whether it should withdraw the balance of funding for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme now that a key element has been shot down by the Supreme Court.

The council's environment & service committee has asked Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC) to advise on the merits of any further investment and the implications of shelving Ruataniwha "so that council can consider whether to remove the remaining $60 million allocation for the scheme from the next long term plan."

HBRIC and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry this month failed to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling that quashed a land-swap deal involving conservation land needed to dam the Makaroro River, creating a 93 million cubic metre reservoir and providing water for the $275 million irrigation scheme, which could have lifted production on 25,000 hectares of farmland in central Hawke's Bay.

While the government is now considering a law change to allow land swaps, the council committee said in a statement that "it does not support obtaining the DOC land under the Public Works Act."

The committee has also recommended that the council suspend work on a joint application to the Environment Court. The application made by the council, the Environmental Defence Society and Fish & Game New Zealand had sought clarification of land use consent conditions in relation to dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) limits set when the Board of Inquiry approved the scheme.


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