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Danse Macabre at Ruataniwha

The dodging and diving we now can witness at the Hawkes Bay Regional Council which will inevitably result in substantial additional subsidies by its long suffering rate-payers to farmers who plan to benefit from the 'dodgy dam' took another turn yesterday with estimated construction costs increasing by another $100m to close to $1b. 

Just how its Chair - Fenton Wilson intends to handle this revelation will again provide entertainment for those of us long used to his antics. Fortunately the until now unassailable edifice he has constructed on his Council is about to crumble. Individuals are beginning to question the whole rationale for the dam and the downstream irrigation schemes. 

Contemplate these three issues if you will:

1. The whole strategic plan surrounding the construction of the dam has been changed to provide a 60% reduction in dairy conversions, and equivalent increase in projected grape-vine and apple production. Talk about dancing on the head of a needle - think of all those 'good ole' boy' sheep cockies suddenly acquiring the new skills required to cope with that change. You can bet bet that they are all studying like mad the difference between a Sturmer and a Braeburn, and whether or not to 'plonge' the Gewurtztraminer as you read this.

2. ACC have been leant upon politically to provide from its $60b nest egg as support for the project, following on its similar 'bailing out' of Postbank last week. It won't say of course under RNZ questioning, claiming 'commercial sensitivity.' - I bet!

3.  Wilson goes into a meeting later this week with the Sword of Damocles hanging over the project - one of his major supporters - Peter Beaven said on RNZ this AM that "it is in the balance." Expect the farmers who have already signed to rebel unless they can squeeze more funding from rate-payers, and have ACC come through. Fenton will be holding his breath I suspect, and I imagine the Government will be wondering just where to turn given the pre-election assurances given in relation to funding this project, and its commitment to increased 'intensification ' and aquaculture.

The economics, and environmental consequences of this project have been dodgy right from the start (see previous posts - enter "Ruataniwha" into Search), and the sooner it is finally knocked on the head the better. It represents the worst local government involvement in projects that are simply disproportionate. Believe you me, we have the same philosophy at work right here in our Region and District in the Coromandel Harbour in particular. 

I hope that our new CEO can bring some straight forward thinking and common sense to the situation, and dampen down expectations. 


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