Glen Robertshaw: It is the people who should decide the dam

The site of the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

By Dr Glen Robertshaw

On the 10th May the review commissioned by Hawke's Bay Regional Council of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS) was released.

It has been suggested that council will make a decision whether or not to proceed with the project at their meeting on the 31st of May.

However, Transparent Hawke's Bay urges HBRC to allow the public to have their own "cup of tea" and be given time to digest this review, and ultimately have their say.

There is no pressing need to make a decision by the 31st of May, as the project is currently on hold due to the legal case about the land swap deal between the Department of Conservation and HBRIC.

As a ruling is not expected within the next few months, this provides council the perfect opportunity to properly consider the public's views before deciding whether to proceed or not.

Some may argue that the public has already been consulted about this project. However, those consultations have been heavily criticised, and there have been some significant changes to the scheme since those previous consultations.

These include:

- An acknowledgement in the review, from HBRC staff, that Plan Change 6 (which are the regulations that HBRC will use to enforce environmental limits) is not workable and the environmental outcomes not achievable, with or without the dam, and that it needs changing.

- A proposed additional $80 million loan by HBRIC is needed to help pay dividends to HBRC.

- Major changes to the dam type, structure and construction, as well as the distribution network and RWSS use of the rivers, streams and Lake Whatuma.

- A new irrigation zone has been added and others significantly expanded.

- Increased construction costs (Last estimated to be $340 million in July 2016, but now likely to be higher due to inflation in construction environment).

- There will now be no hydroelectric generation "for the foreseeable future" (this was considered to be a major benefit by the Board of Inquiry).

- A likely increase in water price for users, as the Foundation Water User contracts are renewed in the next few months.

In combination, these changes represent a significantly different proposition from that which has been consulted on previously, and we believe this warrants HBRC re-consulting with the public on whether they want to proceed or not.

This would provide clarity about the public's opinion for councillors, and ensure that the decision that is made is the right one for Hawke's Bay. Not only that, but this would be an opportunity for council to regain some of the public trust that has been eroded over the past few years.

James Palmer, who headed the review, states in his summary "A key finding of this Review is that substantial environmental risks and uncertainty exist for the Council in this catchment with or without the RWSS".

Ultimately, it is the people of Hawke's Bay who should decide whether to take those risks or not.

Dr Glen Robertshaw is a member of Transparency Hawke's Bay.

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- Hawke's Bay
03:06 pm Tuesday 23 May 2017
So just like a general election then....that's full of complex issues as well. Are you advocating only letting "certain people" vote in those too? That's heading down a dangerous path.


08:57 pm Monday 22 May 2017
The problem is, that the HBRC Council lack the understanding and ability to make the decisions, let alone public who are emotive and not really able to do so.


08:57 pm Monday 22 May 2017
apart from the public that want it....oh and i bet that public pays a lot more rates than you do, perhaps we should get a number of votes based on the amount you pay, like shareholding, then you would see who really wants it.


- Napier
03:43 pm Monday 22 May 2017
For my tuppence worth as a resident of Napier......

The dam should go ahead as it is required by everyone.

It is required to put.....
a) sustainable electricity into the national grid which we all use
b) water resources for Agriculture (exports)
c) water resources for Horticulture (exports)
d) work for local business and industry while being built
e) work for locals while being built

Do you want Napier and Hawke's Bay to grow and thrive? Then this dam resource needs to go ahead now.

About Time

04:05 pm Sunday 21 May 2017
They already made the decision when they vote in a majority of anti-dam Councillors. Just end the fiasco and look to prosecute those responsible for wasting millions of rate payers money.


- Hastings
04:05 pm Sunday 21 May 2017
Thank you Glen. Let's continue to have a closer look, and it is the public's money, therefore the public should be the decision makers full stop.......


- Hawke's Bay
04:05 pm Sunday 21 May 2017
Let's have a referendum

Brian Anderson

04:05 pm Sunday 21 May 2017
I would agree, provided the people of Hawke's Bay took the time to understand the real issues. The review papers, available on the HBRC website only if you search for them under the meetings agenda, amount to about 400 pages of very detailed and often complex argument. How many people will take the time to search these out and read them? That is a monumental challenge even for the regional councillors.

The summaries of the review that are available on the HBRC website front page lose a lot of the detail, and most of the subtleties that are embedded in the review. The executive summary of the summary loses even more and is pretty well a waste of time reading.

Unfortunately the general populace will not get themselves up to speed and will rely on newspaper headlines and sound bites to form an opinion.


04:05 pm Sunday 21 May 2017
The public have had their say about 10,000 times. They dont want the dam. However no one seems to listen

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