19 Jun 2014

Farmers urged to attend pro dam rally

3:35 pm on 19 June 2014

Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers is urging farmers and others to join a rally in Waipukerau on Friday supporting the much debated Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

The rally at noon has been timed to show public support for the dam before the Board of Inquiry considering the project delivers its final report next week and Hawke's Bay regional council makes a decision on whether to invest up to $80 million in the scheme.

Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers president Will Foley said farmers need to show their support for the scheme, despite having questions earlier about the economics.

"The initial concern was the cost of the water compared to other schemes or existing irrigators that were drawing out of the ground, but one change from beforehand that we've now discovered is that water will be delivered to farms under pressure, so that will be a cost saving from not having to repump the water up to pressure."

The board of inquiry has had an extension of a month to present the final decision, he said.

"That is due out next week, so it looks like it's going to use the full month's extension and if we read into that, I guess we see that as a positive, that it's looking at every aspect of what it comes up with."

Meanwhile, a ratepayer group has questioned the involvement of a public relations firm in drumming up support for the rally.

Transparent Hawke's Bay Group's chairperson Pauline Elliott said the rally has been promoted as a community-led initiative.

So she said her group was surprised to receive an email seeking support from the PR company, Attn! Marketing.

She said the company is associated with the European-New Zealand joint venture, OHL Hawkins, that the regional council has named as its preferred contractor to build the dam.