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HBRC and Eastland Group agree Waihi Dam settlement

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Eastland Group have agreed to resolve the current prosecution regarding the Waihi Dam without a conviction being entered.

In September 2015, storm-damaged sluice gates began discharging silt from the dam into the Waiau River. The gates repairs were completed in March 2016 and the power station has been functioning normally since then. In May 2016 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council laid charges against two parties in relation to the works carried out on the Waihi Dam and the subsequent discharge of silt into the Waihi and Waiau Rivers.

HBRC Chief Executive Andrew Newman says it was agreed, given what is now known of the events, that pursuing a court case would have no direct benefit to the Wairoa community.

“HBRC has worked with the Eastland Group to come up with a resolution that delivers tangible, positive outcomes for the people of Wairoa as well as the environment,” says Mr Newman.

"We respect the commitment the Eastland Group has made to come to a settlement in this issue.”

Eastland Group will contribute $100,000 to a project to be agreed with the Wairoa District Council. The company is also signing a 10-year sponsorship agreement that will see it contribute $15,000 per year towards Wairoa-focused events and activities. This sponsorship starts in April 2017, and is worth a total of $150,000.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will apply to withdraw all charges against Eastland Networks Limited and diving contractor Abyss Limited.

Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd has once again apologised on behalf of Eastland Network and Eastland Group to the Wairoa community.

“While this was an unforeseen event, the effects it had on the river ways and the people of Wairoa over the busy summer period were significant and distressing.”

“As the local electricity lines company, we are part of Wairoa’s everyday life, and take this responsibility seriously. We realise that our brand and reputation were damaged during the event. We look forward to partnering with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council to deliver long-lasting projects that will benefit the whole community, and help restore our reputation as a good corporate citizen.”

“Locals couldn’t use and enjoy their river while the silt was discolouring the water. Although we can’t restore the recreational value that was lost last summer, we can contribute to a new facility that will allow families to play and have fun beside the beautiful Wairoa river for years to come.”

In addition, Eastland Group will cover Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s external investigation costs up to $85,000, while Eastland Group’s insurers are working with Wairoa District Council to settle its claim for costs associated with the water treatment plant.

As previously confirmed, Eastland Group and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council are looking at the modification of the existing resource consents, which are over 30 years old. The intention is to make these clearer and more practical, to assist in the operation and management of the Waihi Dam.

Wairoa District Council Chief Executive Fergus Power says that the agreement represented a first step towards a closer and improved relationship between Eastland Group and the Wairoa community.

“This community treasures its natural environment, and will always robustly advocate for its protection,” Mr Power says.

 

14 February 2017

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