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HBRIC considers High Court decision on DOC land exchange balanced

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Friday February 19, 2016

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC) says it is pleased with the High Court’s judgment rejecting a challenge to the Director-General of Conservation’s decision to approve an exchange of land necessary for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme to go ahead.

Forest & Bird sought a High Court review of the Director-General’s decision to exchange 22 hectares of conservation land from the 94,000 hectare Ruahine Forest Park for 170 hectares of Smedley Station, which will be incorporated into the park. The 22 hectares sits inside the Ruataniwha Scheme reservoir and DOC believes the exchange enhances the conservation values of the land it manages. Forest and Bird sought the review on the process taken to make that decision.

While High Court Judge Justice Palmer agreed with some of Forest & Bird’s submission, he rejected all of their challenges to the land exchange decision.

HBRIC Chief Executive Andrew Newman says the High Court decision is very balanced.

“Ultimately Justice Palmer confirmed the Director-General correctly focused on the conservation purposes underlying the Conservation Act as being the key criterion for his decision,” says Mr Newman.

He says the decision is another step in the process and brings everyone closer to a final decision on the scheme.

“This decision gives everyone further certainty, especially farmers who are considering signing up to take water from the scheme, and potential investors.”

6 April 2016

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