The Board of Inquiry (BOI) charged with the fate of the Tukituki catchment has requested a delay in making its decision.

The BOI proposes an end date of 28 May for the overall process, with a draft decision promised by 15 April. Previously it was expected that the BOI would release a draft decision in the first week of March.

The decision to delay rests in the hands of the Environment and Conservation Ministers, who presumably will respond with dispatch.

In its request (you can read it here), the BOI stresses the complexity of the issues involved and the scope of technical disagreement on key points regarding water quality, water quantity and effects of land use intensification. The Board further notes the far-reaching implications of this decision for other waterways in Hawke’s Bay, as well as the precedent-setting importance of the decision for all of New Zealand.

These are precisely the reasons many in Hawke’s Bay — Ngati Kahungunu, Fish & Game, the entire environmental community, Transparent Hawke’s Bay and others — sought a delay before triggering a Board of Inquiry in the first place. Of course that request fell on deaf ears at the then-HBRC as well as EPA.

The BOI’s delay request will — one hopes — carry more weight!

If nothing else, it signals that opponents of the Regional Council’s lame water quality approach and skeptics of the dam are not simply a bunch of ‘nutters’ after all. The BOI appears to be taking them seriously.

Tom Belford

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