6 Oct 2014

Dam company won't revisit consents process

6:57 pm on 6 October 2014

The company managing Hawke's Bay's Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme says it would not intend revisiting the consents process under a reformed Resource Management Act.

The National-led Government has signalled it will push ahead with RMA reforms put on hold during its last term.

The country's irrigation body says it is keen to see the Act changed to make it easier to get large-scale irrigation schemes off the ground.

But Andrew Newman, chief executive of the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company, said that would not have any bearing on the Ruataniwha scheme and associated irrigation works, which received consents earlier this year under the existing RMA.

"We are in the process of dealing with legislation as it exists today and all those processes as they exist today - so no, we are not looking to RMA reforms to give us any particular advantage or relief or to make our road easier," he said.

"I should say, too, that we actually feel quite strongly that the consent granted through the Board of Inquiry process appropriately manages the environmental impacts of intensive agriculture.

"It's pretty rigourous. Farmers will have to perform really well, as will the scheme. That's really pretty important and quite appropriate in our view - so no, provided we get through the appeals, we deal with the realities of the legislation as it is today."

The investment company is awaiting the outcome of appeals against the consents from Fish and Game, Forest and Bird and the Environmental Defence Society. They are to be heard at the High Court on 10 to 12 November.

Meanwhile, Central Hawke's Bay District Council has decided it will take its urban water supply from the Ruataniwha water storage scheme once it is operating to supply Waipukurau, Waipawa, Takapau and Otane.

Mr Newman said the investment company is making progress in signing up farmers to take water from the scheme. He maintains there is plenty of interest from potential investors after two major investors lined up for the project, TrustPower and Ngai Tahu, walked away.

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