$10,000 is what environmentalists have asked for.

But the HB Regional Council has refused to front the funds.

At issue is a genuinely independent review of the core environmental standards proposed for the $500 million CHB water storage scheme.

The Council has spent approximately $5 million to build its case for the scheme.

Environmentalists involved in monitoring the project have asked for the opportunity to have a team of independent, highly qualified technical specialists, selected by environmentalists, to review the science underlying the key environmental standards to be set for the scheme.

These standards relate to water quality in the Tukituki – what should be measured and how, and what pollution levels are acceptable – and to minimum low flows that must be set to protect ecological and recreational values in the river.

If these standards are set appropriately, and met, the water storage scheme can be the win/win initiative the Regional Council has proclaimed as its objective.

If they are not set appropriately, water quality in the river will deteriorate in the face of massively intensified farming in the CHB catchment.

But the HBRC has said to environmentalists: Get stuffed!

The review environmentalists want would cost about $10,000. It would be conducted within a process managed by the Council, and would not add material delay to the study process. Essentially, independent reviewers selected by our environmental team would assess the standards that have been tabled by HBRC and its multi-million dollar team of consultants, using the scientific data and analysis currently available, as well as relevant information from elsewhere in New Zealand.

Given the millions the Council has spent to prepare its case, I can’t really say that $10,000 will actually level the playing field, but it will at least permit a genuinely independent and high quality examination of the data … one that could be confidence-building for all parties.

Without that review, environmentalists cannot make an informed assessment of the dam proposal and related water allocation plans. And the public will not have the judgment it deserves from the region’s environmental leaders.

HB environmental groups do not have the funds to conduct the review. Perhaps readers of this post will speak up to the Council, or put their hands in their own pockets to help out. But the opportunity is passing as the Council rushes forward to sell the project.

Doesn’t a $500 million project with immense consequences to the health of the Tukituki deserve an independent environmental tick? This is what genuine consultation is all about … anything else is a farce.

Tom Belford

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4 Comments

  1. Next thing you know is the dam supporters will be calling for an 'informed' debate about the dam. Hard to have an informed debate about $5m of reporting with a zero budget.

    One wonders why council is so scared of the results of an independant analysis of the dam reports. You would think that if they are so confident of the results they would welcome the opportunity to allocate 0.00005% of the $230m budget to a bit of truely independant analysis and shut the opponents down.

    Just another reason why I have lost trust in the decision making processes demonstarted by the HBRC

  2. Hi

    The HBRC are going to build that dam and nobody will stop them,it is being built by farmers for farmers,and I dont think they care about the cost, or the after effects,in the river or the land,they think it is their river and they will do what they like with it,and that is the saddest part

  3. While I agree we need to monitor the Tuki Tuki water quality to ensure the two councils doing all the poluting are kept from continuing to empty their s…rubbish into the river at high volume time I welcome the dam. I have been lucky enough to have experienced the formation of the South island hydro lakes. The fantastic improvement in Central Otago from the forming of those lakes has assured me of the advantage of controled water storage. The rivers no longer flood to the extent they did.Water is retained to use as a tool in horticulture and agriculture .plus Fishing,swiming ,rowing,boating,and just the improvement in scenery from the daming of lakes like Tekapo plus low cost power it is a real plus plus situation.Why waste water if it can be stored. Fishing as improved not lost as some would report.

    We cold include land lock Salmon to increase our options for trout fishermen.We could include a rowing coarse like at Twizel . This could be an unbelievable commercial opportunity.

  4. Hi again.

    To Barry Jones

    This dam is being built way out in the sticks half way up the Ruahines

    1 I bet this dam will not make your power any cheaper

    2I do not think there will be much swimming in it to cold

    3 There will be no rowing centre on it like Twizel to remote

    4 You cannot enhance the scenery by damming a river their is nothing better than a wild river we have already lost to many

    5 I am not sure about salmon but I think it is not cold enough in the North Island they have already tried liberating then in the rivers no luck

    6 There might be a bit of boating thats if roads and ramps are put in.

    7 Jury is out on improved fishing could be worse or better you are damming a spawning river any talk of fish passes [not yet]

    Cheers Bruce

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