Supreme Court denies Ruataniwha Dam appeal – In the News

The Supreme Court has denied an appeal to allow a land swap for the proposed Ruataniwha Dam project in the Hawke’s Bay.

An artist’s impression of the Ruataniwha Dam – before and after. Supplied/ Isthmus Group

The court’s decision was released today, following a Court of Appeal ruling last year that found the process of acquiring the land was unlawful.

The scheme would have dammed 22 hectares of conservation land, which the Department of Conservation had reclassified as stewardship land and planned to swap with 170ha of private farm land.

Forest and Bird, which led the legal challenge to the land swap deal, said it would have set a legal precedent that could affect all Forest Parks in New Zealand.

If the project had gone ahead, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council would have invested $80 million in the $900 million irrigation scheme. The project would have dammed the Makaroro River to create a reservoir for the irrigation of more than 25,000 hectares of farm and crop land in the region.

The Council still had the option of seizing the conservation land under the Public Works Act, but Hawke’s Bay regional councillor Peter Beavan told Radio NZ “there probably a feeling among councillors that they’d rather not go there”.

The court’s decision has been covered by local media, including:

NZ Herald: Ruataniwha Dam land-swap denied
Radio NZ: Conservation land can’t be destroyed for dam – Supreme Court Supreme Court deals another blow on Ruataniwha dam proposal
TVNZ: Ruataniwha land swap wrong: Supreme Court
Newshub: Decision due on controversial Hawke’s Bay dam