Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan

Press release - June 22, 2016
Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region.

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”.

Greenpeace’s agriculture campaigner, Gen Toop, describes the move to grant the consents without notifying the public as “inconceivable”.

“The public are being asked to fork out hundreds of millions of dollars on a dam that will cause more industrial dairy farming and more pollution of our rivers. It's just wrong that the public, who will lose out on clean rivers thanks to the dam, have been shut out of this process,” she says.

Greenpeace’s legal challenge comes less than a year after 17 original consents and a notice of requirement related to the scheme were granted to the investment company by a Board of Inquiry.  

That process saw significant public interest and opposition, and involved almost 400 submissions and close to 30,000 pages of evidence, many about the risks to water quality in the area.

Toop says Greenpeace will now wait for a hearing date, but she expects the Council and investment company will request an urgent hearing.

“All signs suggest they’re not interested in what the public have to say about the environmental and financial dangers of this scheme, and are dead-set on pushing it through as quickly as possible,” she says.

“Rather than backing this dam and the broken industrial dairy farming model, this council should be investing in ecological farming, which is infinitely better for our rivers, our land and our international reputation.”