Protest at Ru­atani­wha meet­ing

The Dominion Post - - News - SI­MON HENDERY

About 40 op­po­nents of the planned Ru­atani­wha dam staged a protest out­side Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil’s Napier head­quar­ters yes­ter­day.

The peace­ful protest was held ahead of a meet­ing in­side the build­ing where coun­cil­lors re­ceived up­dates on the pro­posed Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay wa­ter stor­age scheme from their le­gal ad­vis­ers and in­vest­ment com­pany.

The Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil is plan­ning to in­vest $80 mil­lion of ratepay­ers’ money into the scheme, which would ir­ri­gate about 25,000 hectares of farm­land on the drought-prone Ru­atani­wha Plains.

Coun­cil­lors are ex­pected to vote next month on whether the project should go ahead.

The coun­cil’s in­vest­ment arm, Hawke’s Bay Re­gional In­vest­ment Com­pany, is await­ing the out­come of a Court of Ap­peal chal­lenge to a de­ci­sion by the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion to grant a land-swap in the area that would be flooded by the dam.

An ‘‘in­sti­tu­tional in­vestor’’ – ru­moured to be ACC – is in the fi­nal stages of com­plet­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to part-fund the $330m scheme.

Green­peace said yes­ter­day that ACC should not be in­vest­ing in the project ‘‘when pri­vate in­vestors won’t’’.

Pro­test­ers op­posed to the planned Ru­atani­wha dam gather out­side Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil’s of­fices in Napier ahead of a coun­cil meet­ing.

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