web analytics

EDS attacks Nick Smith’s Ruataniwha Dam process

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, October 11th, 2013 - 19 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, same old national, water - Tags: , ,

Ruataniwha damI posted recently about the Ruataniwha Dam resource consent process.  There are a number of issues surrounding this proposal including a Board of Inquiry without scientific expertise being selected (although I have since learned that one of the lawyers has some scientific expertise), a DOC submission inviting the Board to get more information and seek a peer review being dumped, submitters not being able to access the site, a model which NIWA is refusing to allow to be analysed, and a GNS Science contract being terminated because the scientists wanted a disclaimer inserted into their report.

To add to this list Gary Taylor, the Chairperson of the Environmental Defence Society, has publicly castigated the process.  In a scathing press release issued yesterday he heavily criticised the Board of Inquiry process for deciding on the Ruataniwha Dam consents.  The EDS is taking part in the hearing and is obviously finding the process difficult in the extreme.

In strong language he has outlined serious and compelling concerns about the fairness of the Environmental Protection Agency process for the hearings considering the applications for consents.  I will set out his comments in full as they are deeply troubling.

“[T]he Board of Inquiry process is so heavily stacked against the interests of submitters, it fails the fundamental requirements of fairness.  Because Government entities are not participating in the hearing, the burden of testing the applicant’s arguments has fallen on the voluntary sector. Engaging in the process is however extremely challenging.

The applicant has had years to prepare its case and has produced an overwhelming amount of highly technical evidence that submitters had 4 weeks to evaluate and submit on. Then the applicant prepared 46 briefs of evidence that were posted on the EPA’s website and submitters were given just 4 weeks to submit evidence in response.

These timelines have put enormous and unreasonable pressure on submitters.

It gets worse. There are also burdensome administrative requirements, with formal requests needing to be filed to do anything. The EPA administrators are also firing off directions changing set dates and imposing fresh obligations on a daily basis. It is a challenge just keeping up with them.

Moreover, it is clear from the evidence that a lot of this case hinges on freshwater science. But the Ministers for the Environment and Conservation, who appointed the Board, failed to include a freshwater specialist. And there’s no indication yet that the Board has even appointed science advisors.

Unprecedented in my experience is the fact that experts have been refused access to the site of the proposed dam and to key information relied upon by the applicant. This is deeply prejudicial. The Board has acknowledged this by allowing supplementary evidence to be filed later but that is suboptimal.

The process in this case is fundamentally flawed, the timeframes unrealistic, and the administration of it insensitive to constraints on submitters. Our confidence in getting a fair go has been heavily compromised.

It is a process that seems designed to facilitate the applicant getting consents and the plan change getting approved unchanged. It is a process that appears designed to implement the government’s growth agenda at all costs – and to ride roughshod over serious and legitimate public interest and environmental concerns.

I think the government needs to review the process for these called-in cases and create a fairer and more workable framework. This is so fast, so demanding and so unfair that it has to stop. It is just ridiculous.

We think the Board also needs to have another look at the timeframe it has available. Nine months for a case of this size and complexity is unrealistic. The Board should ask the Minister for more time now and establish a workable and fair process as soon as possible.

The EDS was formed in 1971 and has a sterling reputation for realistic principled advocacy for environmental protection.  It has always conducted itself with decorum and restraint.  That Gary Taylor felt obliged to use language as strong as this shows how compromised the Ruataniwha consent processes are.

19 comments on “EDS attacks Nick Smith’s Ruataniwha Dam process ”

  1. vto 1

    This government is bloody useless at doing its job properly i.e. following due government process etc. They think they can just dump on everything and do what they want.

    The only one they have succeeded in not being challenged on is the coup at Environment Canterbury where they forced the Council out from the building by threat of jackboots and imposing their own commissars.

    Everything else they botch.

    At least they are getting a good kicking to the head from all over the whole country…. People and organisations held in high regard, such as the EDS, clearly have no respect for this government.

    Good on the EDS.

    • fambo 1.1

      They aren’t useless – they are actually very good – at stacking the deck in their favour.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1.1.1

        @ Fambo,

        Are they? I don’t recall a government having so many official bodies coming out and criticising the government of the day so frequently on so many fronts. (GCSB, retrospective legislation, RMA, legal financial assistance….)

        No, I don’t think they are ‘stacking the deck in their favour’ very well at all. They can’t even manage that competently.

        This government is useless, has no regard for Nzers’ interests and it has to go.

        +1000 VTO

  2. vto 2

    This is of course a result of that most poorly characteristic of the human bean…

    greed and lust for gold

    on this occasion that greed and lust is undaunting in its grasp of farmers. Shame they are not resistant to this poorly characteristic but not surprising as it afflicts most all humans – they are as weak as any.

  3. ianmac 3

    The whole scheme is deeply disturbing especially as it purports to be a template for future schemes. The people who care about our environment have what recourse if the Nick Smith Plunder machine rumbles on.
    (Note the friendly funny presentations that Nick Smith has recently put forward on TV re nasty birds and house sections. “See? I be a good guy and you folks have nothing to fear.”)

  4. Peter 4

    Hmm. I still think the targets are wrong here. Nick Smith isn’t running this process, it’s Amy Adams, as Minister for the Environment, and she should be the prime target. The EPA reports to Adams, she picked the board, and stacked the process. I’m not condoning what Nick Smith probably did by suppressing DOC evidence, but he isn’t in charge of this process, and nor does he probably have much time for Adams’ extreme right wing ideology.

    Smith has done some reasonable stuff in conservation recently with more to come, and he’s a welcome change from his predecessor (Kate Wilkinson).
    It is Adams after all who is promoting nationwide water quality standards that will turn most of our rivers into sewers through increased nitrate. Think the Ruataniwha plains situation rolled out across the country…

    • vto 4.1

      “It is Adams after all who is promoting nationwide water quality standards that will turn most of our rivers into sewers through increased nitrate. Think the Ruataniwha plains situation rolled out across the country…”

      Spending some big chunks of time in absolute remote wilderness I am finding more and more that upon return to rural areas the landscape is dreadful. It is an industrial landscape with its sole saving grace being that the foreign grasses are coloured green. In all other respects it may as well be concreted over.

      • Peter 4.1.1

        Yep, but some regional councils and NGOs are valiantly fighting on to upgrade water quality regulations to get improvements in freshwater quality, or just to hold the line. Adams’ proposed standards, currently being written by the Ministry for the Environment, will seal the deal and lock in pollution in our rivers for generations.

        • vto 4.1.1.1

          How could this government lock in such settings for generations? A future government could surely amend these.

          What she is doing in going about this is exhibiting the same behaviour as this entire government and their supporters. They recognise a sea-change in the electorate towards environmental sustainability and that the old colonial model of two centuries ago of simply eating the environment (because there is apparently so much of it..) is rapidly on the way out.

          This government, in this area and others, is making a last desperate grab for resources and assets before the gate comes thundering down in the very near future, through another government, reflecting the wishes of the wider public.

          It is a last gasp. A desperate grab, a lunge with fingers outstretched and eyes bulging, sweat at the temples.

          They might manage to grab a wee bit more for their greedy selves and supporters but they wont get much. Time’s up. Twelve months to go.

          • Peter 4.1.1.1.1

            Regional plan processes are slow to change, and governments are usually reluctant to override them with nationwide standards. So the damage done now, particularly, in Canterbury, will be hard to undo. There is also the question of how willing a new Labour government will be to direct challenge agricultural interests.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2

        It is an industrial landscape with its sole saving grace being that the foreign grasses are coloured green. In all other respects it may as well be concreted over.

        Came to the same conclusion years ago.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      You are right that Adams is also heavily involved. Both Ministers made the call in decision. I have concentrated on Smith in my previous posts but I agree that Adams is just as complicit in what is happening.

      • Peter 4.2.1

        I’m particularly conscious of political tactics here. Smith has made some good environmental decisions – on getting extra funding for DOC, stopping the nutty Routeburn-Hollyford tunnel, plus a few other things in the pipeline, such as the monorail project and the Haast-Hollyford Road. If those decisions are made now and are made the wrong way, it will be pretty difficult to undo them, so my tactics would be to focus on the worst Minister right now – Adams, and encourage Smith to do the right thing, because he does from time to time.

  5. MrSmith 5

    You could liken this sham to cutting off legal aid and then asking the defendant if they want to defend themselves, out of there own pocket that is, oh and you only get 10 minutes to organize it, What say you! if no to bad, your guilty, go to jail, go directly to jail.

    Federated farmers are calling for more water storage mainly because of the increased likelihood of drought, no mention of doing anything about the root cause, so they swallow another spider to catch a fly, idiots!

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    As I said in the last post, the whole process has obviously been corrupted and a large number of people, especially elected officials, need to be going to jail.

  7. Ad 7

    EDS is preparing the public ground for judicial review proceedings. Bring it on Gary Taylor – hopefully it will take out Adams and Smith simultaneously in the 2014 reshuffle.

  8. JK 8

    ” Because Government entities are not participating in the hearing, the burden of testing the applicant’s arguments has fallen on the voluntary sector.” This is a comment from the EDS media release.

    However, even when government entities such as DoC or NIWA (whoever) do participate in environmental hearings, their opinions and evidence can be suspect because they’ve often done consultancy work for the applicants. So the burden on the objectors to provide scientific evidence is not uncommon. Its a lousy way for environmental matters to be decided – often biased towards the applicant.

    I do hope you’re right Ad, that EDS are preparing for a judicial review, and that it IS successful.

  9. millsy 9

    Ruataniwha dam needs to be in public ownership.

  10. GK 10

    On Saturday night I had a conversation with a very experienced person who has submitted to the EPA on the Ruataniwha scheme. His voice needs to be heard but he is withdrawing as an expert witness because of the difficulties highlighted by Gary Taylor.

    The dam is a done deal . Fonterra have already invested $200 million in an upgrade of its Pahiatua processing plant in anticipation of dairy expansion in Central Hawke’s Bay (http://agrihq.co.nz/article/hopes-dam-will-lead-to-more-dairying?p=7) and has been holding confidential discussions with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (formed by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council).

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Seniors – our parents and grandparents
    International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism, Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said today. “What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago