2 Oct 2015

Councillor says Ruataniwha Dam faces major hurdles

2:21 pm on 2 October 2015

A Hawke's Bay regional councillor, Tom Belford, says its still uncertain whether the business case for the Ruataniwha Dam can be completed by Christmas.

But Mr Belford said after a briefing from the council's investment company HBRIC on Wednesday it was clear there were at least three major hurdles that have to be overcome.

He said the economics of the project depends on having a certain amount of presold water to provide cashflow to investors and he said no additional water has been sold in past 60 days.

"And so HBRIC, our holding company, has projections which they keep bringing forward claiming that they will in fact meet the magic number which is now about 47 million cubic metres of water but we've only sold 20 million.

"Whether they can sell enough in the deadlines that they are giving themselves which is to meet that goal by mid-November and then move from there to full financial closure by the end of the year seems to me pretty dubious."

He said another possible problem was the probable change in the price of the water.

"That would be triggered by the need to reprice the cost of the dam itself, which the original numbers came in now almost two years ago and one would suspect the construction company has a higher price tag two years later on this project."

He said that would mean going back to farmers who may have already purchased and renegotiating price.

Mr Belford said the third major hurdle was the matter of whether DOC agreed to de-register protected land needed to build the dam.

HBRIC said it believed there was still a reasonable prospect of reaching financial close by December.

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