Protestors take anti-Ruataniwha dam message to council chambers

Protesters opposed to the planned Ruataniwha dam gathered outside Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Napier headquarters ...
SIMON HENDERY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Protesters opposed to the planned Ruataniwha dam gathered outside Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Napier headquarters ahead of a council meeting on Wednesday.

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

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 advisors and investment company.

The 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.

Greenpeace said last week it would seek a judicial review over consenting issues related t the scheme.

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

The Green Party said on Wednesday that ACC should not be investing in the project "when private investors won't".

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