26 Jun 2015

Ruataniwha dam 'workable'

6:12 am on 26 June 2015

A Hawke's Bay farming representative thinks the final decision of the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha dam and irrigation project will be workable for the farmers who sign up to take water from the scheme.

Ruataniwha Dam

The Ruataniwha Dam site Photo: SUPPLIED

After more than a year of hearings, and a High Court challenge, the Board has released its final decision, confirming strict limits on the amount of nitrogen that can leech into waterways from farming.

It has set a nitrogen limit of 0.8 in the Tukituki catchment, which must be monitored each year.

The Environmental Defence Society questioned how the dam could be economically viable, because a large part of the catchment already exceeded that, leaving no room to increase production.

But Federated Farmers' Hawke's Bay president Will Foley said farmers who had signed up for the scheme remain committed to it.

"They believe very much so that this is a workable consent, that's what the High Court judge instructed the board - that whatever changes they made couldn't frustrate the consents of the dam project, so farmers are very keen to still go ahead."

Mr Foley expected more farmers would sign up now that the consent conditions had been confirmed, although submitters could still appeal against the board's final decision.