When we look back over the history of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme Wednesday 27th May 2015 will feature prominently. It was on this day that HBRIC announced to the world that the purpose of the dam has nothing to do with maintaining or enhancing the Tukituki, or allowing landowners in the Tukituki catchment to make independent decisions about how they will farm.
In his latest report to HBRC, HBRIC Chairman Andy Pearce stated that “There is not a 0.8 din level in RWSS consents because it would frustrate the use of the consents” – In other words HBRIC has fought to obtain the right to pollute because the dam could not be built otherwise. Clearly HBRIC has never been interested in water quality. He also stated that “Conditions relating to the consent cannot frustrate the consent for the whole duration of the consent – for the whole of the 35 years” – In other words even if HBRC had the intestinal fortitude to enforce Plan Change 6 HBRIC will fight to retain the right to pollute, because without this right the dam is not viable.
Because most of the Tukituki is already over the 0.8 din limit, for farmers who do not want to sign up to the RWSS Mr Pearce kindly pointed out that “Most people won’t get a resource consent I would imagine. How could you issue a resource consent when knowing that the stream is already over allocated?” – In other words he was saying to independently minded farmers that if they wanted to continue farming on the Ruataniwha their only option is to sign up to the RWSS. To my mind this means farmers now have a gun pointed at their heads whilst HBRIC is asking them to sign 35 year take or pay contracts. And just to reinforce this point Mr Pearce also stated that “The resource consents for everyone who takes water from RWSS has already been granted a consent for that use. That is the whole point of the global set of consents for the RWSS.” You have to ask yourself, in whose interest is HBRIC actually working?
This is a scenario that has been painted by a number of opponents of the scheme over the years, and what makes last Wednesdays update doubly significant is that for the first time HBRIC has publicly announced that they are not working in our interests but only in their own interest. I can recall some years ago trying to imagine why RWSS was being persisted with and the only answer that seemed logical was ego. The main players Andy Pearce and Andrew Newman now have so much reputational capital, as well as $24 million of ratepayers capital, tied up in this scheme that I can’t see them making any sort of rational decision on where to go to next. Of course HBRIC is owned by HBRC so in reality the fault for this appalling state of affairs can be laid squarely at the feet of Councillors Scott, Dick, Pipe, Wilson, and Hewitt who have continued to support the RWSS unequivocally and seemingly without question.
Therefore the big question to be answered in the minds of these councillors is what does ‘workable consents’ actually mean? Does it mean a consent that is workable only if HBRIC is allowed to increase pollution of the Tukituki, or does it mean the Tukituki is going to be managed in an environmentally sustainable manner as laid down by Plan Change 6 and that farmers on the Ruataniwha Plains will be able to manage their own affairs unpressured by the pollution created by RWSS customers? No doubt HBRC will seek legal advice that is independent from that of their current legal team of Sainsbury Logan & Williams.
The fact that HBRC rolled over an ability for HBRIC to borrow an additional $10 million dollars without having to HBRC know does not give me any confidence that Councillors Scott, Dick, Pipe, Wilson, and Hewitt are capable of seeing that they are destroying the birthright of Councillor Scott’s little grand-niece Elise. Like all our children and grandchildren she will not be able to go swimming in the Tukituki any time soon the way they have voted to date. It also concerns me, as it should all ratepayers, that if HBRIC were to borrow an additional $10 million to throw at the dam the only asset they could use as security is our port. It is time HBRC put a stop to this nonsense and recognised that proceeding with the dam is not and never will be the nivana they anticipate, but instead will be the final nail in the coffin for CHB.