Tasman District Council has voted against going ahead with the controversial Waimea Dam, a move that Julian Raine says is "incredibly short-sighted."

The President of Horticulture New Zealand spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about the decision, saying "I just can't believe some councillors would vote against this."

"It was by far the cheapest option. It was best for everyone in the community and now they've deliberately chosen a more expensive option it's completely unbelievable."

Read more: Tasman District Council votes against Waimea Dam


Some councillors pulled out of the project because they were concerned it would cost rate payers too much. Raine says this reflects some councillors' inability to understand the complexities of the project, as the new option is more expensive.

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Doing nothing is also not an option says Raine. "You can't do nothing because we have national policy statements on water that they have to comply with."

"There's higher instream flows that are needed. The only way they see of complying is actually to turn the water off. Not only irrigators, but commercial, industrial and urban. So this is completely left-field and completely illogical."

Raine insists this is a horticulture issue and not about dairy farming.

"The dairy farmers have actually disappeared because the high-quality land that the Waimea Plains has is very much a fruit and vege bowl of the top of the South Island."

So what next? Raine says there is a "Plan B and C" for the horticultural industry and that some of the larger irrigators can club together to create "big turkey nest ponds to see us through."

"I have no idea how TDC is going to overcome their issue and I have no idea ... how the industrial people ... will overcome theirs."

"This is just mind-numbing ignorance ... by those councillors to vote this down."