Concerns over Ruataniwha dam


A group established to challenge aspects of the Ruataniwha dam proposals for water storage in Central Hawke's Bay has formally lodged a request to have processes used in the consulting and planning stages investigated by the office of the Auditor General.

Transparent Hawke's Bay believes there's been inadequate disclosure and consultation by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council relating to costs, investment and ownership structures, and financial risk.

Group spokeswoman Pauline Elliott said yesterday that in its Draft Long-Term Plan 2012-22, the council failed to describe the total scheme in sufficient detail, as required by the Local Government Act, and did not provide adequate information on costs. Of the 81 submissions received at that time, she said, more than 75 per cent were either opposed or stated more information was needed in order to make any useful comment.

"Cost estimates for the dam itself increased by $60 million after public submissions closed, and no mention was made of even greater on-farm costs."

She alleged the "strongly implied" intention by the council to retain 51 per cent equity in ownership is now "fudged," perhaps impossible to secure.

Other cost factors, such as stricter environmental mitigation measures and dependencies have not been disclosed, she said.

The group says council discussion document Tukituki Choices, released last September, also had no financial information and the council's financial feasibility study with BNZ Advisory was not completed. "While the public were invited to make written comments, these were not formal submissions and there was no public hearing where council assumptions could be challenged," Ms Elliott said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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