More court action looms for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council in relation to its controversial water storage project.

Yesterday the regional council agreed to take up an offer from the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and Fish & Game New Zealand to jointly seek clarification from the Environment Court on key elements of the resource consents for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

This announcement came hours after the regional council agreed to impose new conditions, and amend or reconfirm existing ones which the scheme needs to meet before $80 million is invested in it.

One of these concerned workable resource consents set by the board of inquiry.


In a joint statement, the three parties stated they wanted clarification in the requirement within the scheme's land-use consent conditions to "operate in a manner consistent with" achieving the in-stream DIN Limits of 0.8mg/l by 2030.

They said there was ambiguity in the consent conditions set by the board of inquiry.
There may also be supplementary questions added relating to the Tukituki Plan (Plan Change 6).

Regional council chairman Rex Graham said the council's recent review of the scheme had highlighted uncertainty around the consent conditions, and it was important this was cleared up now.

The offer was initially made to the council in early May, just before a council-commissioned review into the scheme was officially accepted.

Yesterday Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said it was in the long-term interests of Hawke's Bay to have this clarified to offset the risk of further litigation in the future.

The council was congratulated by Environmental Defence Society chief executive Gary Taylor for taking this path to clarify the workability of the scheme's consents.

It was understood the council's investment arm - the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company - was considering whether to join the proceedings.

The matter is expected to be dealt with by the Environment Court before the end of this year.

At present the council is awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing on a land exchange needed for the scheme to go ahead.