RMA reform at any cost? Dam could ‘kill’ Tukituki river
17 September 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
RMA reform at any cost? Dam proposal could ‘kill’ Tukituki river
Leaked documents reveal the Department of Conservation’s original submission on the plan change for the Ruataniwha Dam was far more critical than a subsequent one, say Labour’s Environment and Conservation spokespeople, Maryan Street and Ruth Dyson.
“Instead of improving water quality as the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says it would, the proposal - to control only phosphate levels in the Tukituki River, and allow for a substantial increase in the level of nitrates - could ‘kill’ the river,” said Ruth Dyson.
“In its original submission the Department of Conservation says the plan poses threats to water quality, habitats and fish species and that reversing damage caused by the proposal would present real problems. That view is backed up by academic analysis as well, yet much of that advice was missing from the final, truncated submission.”
The Tukituki catchment is ranked as nationally significant with 18 native fish species present, eight of which are considered to be “at risk” and “declining”.
“The estuary and associated wetlands are a ‘Recommended Area for Protection’ under DoC’s Protected Natural Areas Programme, and yet no work has gone into the Plan Change to assess the impact of the dam on the estuary and coastal waters,” Ruth Dyson said.
Environment spokesperson Maryan Street said issues such as this highlighted the problems with Amy Adams’ plans to neutralise the Resource Management Act.
“Her aggressive paring back of the RMA so that environmental concerns don’t get in the way of development is explained in the light of the leaked documents.
“In the face of such a paucity of information in the proposal, both scientific and financial, the government would be irresponsible to proceed with this scheme. More contestable advice and independent assessment is needed before this project can be advanced.
“Irrigating farm land for more intensive dairying is being prioritised over careful stewardship of our natural resources.
“That appears to be the Minister’s plan for the RMA – take down all barriers to economic development, despite the risks to the environment,” said Maryan Street.