Workable RWSS Consent or Not? – Letter to Editor

I was surprised to see your article Investors still interested in dam: HBRIC (25/7/15) did not question HBRIC as to why they felt they had a workable consent. It is clear that HBRC was unsure of HBRIC’s statement in their monthly report to council that “the conditions for the RWSS do not require that the RWSS comply with the DIN target of 0.8 mg/l by December 2030”. Otherwise why would they have sort a legal opinion from their solicitors Simpson Grierson on this very question?

Legal opinions are what they are. Wishy washy and you have to read between the lines to get to the truth of the matter. I believe Simpson Grierson’s opinion to HBRC below is damning:

“Where a “best practice” approach is consistent with achieving the specified DIN limits  by 31 December 2030, the specific actions required could reflect best practice.  However, if “best practice” is not considered sufficient to reach those targets by 2030,  scheme [RWSS] participants could be required to take further measures. In some cases it is  possible that these measures might involve a reduction in the intensity of the activity”

To my mind this means that whilst HBRIC may believe technology will solve the issue of pollution of the Tukituki, if the technology doesn’t work then water users will have to stop farming intensively. Given that current intensive farming practices are dependant on the use of fertilisers, and the Tukituki already exceeds 0.8 DIN then we have a problem. Clearly there is no guaranteed out for RWSS water users as claimed by Andrew Pearce and Andrew Newman.

So this brings into question what has HBRIC being saying to potential water users in CHB. If they have been promoting the scheme on the basis that RWSS customers have the right to pollute because they do not have to comply with the DIN limit then I would suggest that they are in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

I think it behoves or HBRC councillors not to accept HBRIC’s monthly report at face value. I think some hard questions need to be asked of Andrew Pearce and Andrew Newman. I am sure that institutional investors are, so why isn’t HBRC on behalf of ratepayers? Questions such as why does our legal opinion differ so much from yours? Have you been promoting RWSS by saying users do not have to comply with the DIN limit? And just how do you intend ensuring RWSS does not make a ‘material contribution’ to any breaching of the 0.8 DIN limit?

Councillors Wilson, Scott, Dick, Pipe, and Hewitt need to be 100% confident that the answers to these questions are genuine, and not just spin, before they consider accepting HBRIC’s report this month. To my mind there remain sufficient doubt that there are in fact workable consents that allows otherwise. What do you think?

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