21 Dec 2015

Land swap decision expected in New Year

6:44 am on 21 December 2015

A decision on the Ruataniwha Dam land swap will not be delivered until the New Year, and the project remains well short of the number of signed contracts needed to proceed.

Ruataniwha Dam

Ruataniwha Dam Photo: SUPPLIED / Isthmus Group

Forest and Bird was challenging the Department of Conservation's decision to de-register 22 hectares of protected Conservation Estate to make way for the $600 million commercial dam development.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment company HBRIC updated the council yesterday on efforts to secure institutional investors for the project.

The Forest and Bird legal challenge to the Ruataniwha Dam land swap deal was one of a number of outstanding issues for HBRIC.

The protected conservation area sits in the middle of where the dam reservoir would go once the dam was built.

Justice Palmer had hoped to make a judgement before Christmas after an urgent hearing recently but had advised parties that was now likely to arrive early in the new year.

In its update to the council yesterday, HBRIC said it had secured the sale of more than 30 million cubic metres of water. The council needed to sell about 45 million cubic metres for construction to be viable.

HBRIC still had not announced any investors in the project to replace Trustpower and Ngai Tahu who pulled out early last year.

It said it was confident it could confirm a preferred investor mix before the end of the year, but won't made the decision public until next year.

HBRIC said it had not set a deadline to meet the conditions precedent required for a council vote but hoped the business case would be completed by the end of the first quarter next year.

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