Land plan may affect dam project

By Lawrence Gullery

A plan which aims to manage Hawke's Bay's land and freshwater resources and could hold implications for the Ruataniwha water storage scheme has attracted four appeals lodged with the Environment Court.

Federated Farmers, Hawke's Bay Fish and Game, Horticulture New Zealand and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated were the four appellants of the plan by Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

The council will meet today to discuss the appeals and possible mediation between it and the four appellants.

The document was written to provide better guidance on future decisions around management of the region's land and fresh water resources.

HortNZ's environment manager Chris Keenan admitted the plan was a "technical document" and so were the appeals lodged to the Environment Court.

"We are not objecting to the plan but appealing various points in it. Our submissions [are] based on the values of fresh water, and we don't believe the values in the plan are correct.

"The whole issue of water gets reduced down to an economic value but we are of a view there is a wider set of values, not just for production but also for things like tourism for example."

Mr Keenan said water and the plan change could also touch on issues around the Ruataniwha dam in Central Hawke's Bay.

Regional council strategic development manager Helen Codlin said Plan Change 5 was one of the documents the Board of Inquiry would need to consider when making a decision on the dam.

She said the board would have to decide whether it should consider the plan change because it was not yet approved.

"At one end of the spectrum, they might decide that because it is not operative they should not consider it at all, or they might decide that because it is a fair way through the statutory process, they should consider it as if it were operative."

The Environmental Protection Authority said about 380 submissions to the Ruataniwha project had been received.

Transparent Hawke's Bay's submission wanted the board to consider the economic viability and financial assumptions of the project "in parallel" with environmental impacts.

"We are seeing a fragmented approach to gathering complex information, and then hoping it all fits together for the greater good, without understanding the intricate interconnections and future impacts," co-chairwoman Pauline Elliott said. The group also believed proposed measures to mitigate intensive farming were understated and required greater focus.

Next steps - indicative timeline for the Board of Inquiry, Tukituki proposal

  • 380 dam submissions received.

  • Submissions to appear on EPA website this week.

  • A summary of submissions will be available.

  • Further submission period as soon as possible.

  • Dam pre-hearing, October, 2013.

  • Dam hearing starts, mid-November, 2013.

  • Draft decision report, March 2014.

  • Final decision, April, 2014.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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