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Forest & Bird Appeal of DOC Land exchange obvious attempt to delay RWSS

Friday March 18, 2016

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC) says Forest and Bird’s decision to appeal a High Court judgment giving the green light to a Department of Conservation land exchange necessary for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is an obvious attempt to delay the scheme.

Last month the High Court rejected a Forest & Bird-instigated judicial 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 submissions on the legal issues they raised, he rejected the claim that the land exchange decision was unlawful.
Forest & Bird has decided to appeal that decision.

HBRIC Chief Executive Andrew Newman says DOC undertook an extremely robust process in deciding the land exchange and the latest Forest & Bird appeal of this DOC decision is another attempt to delay the progress of the Ruataniwha Scheme, despite Forest & Bird previously publically stating that was not their objective.

“I would have thought Forest and Bird had achieved any legitimate goal of clarifying the law around land exchanges of this kind for the future, and to launch another appeal against another aspect of the scheme is simply trying to block progress,” says Mr Newman.

He says the most likely outcome even if the appeal succeeds is for the land exchange decision to be handed back to DOC to require them to undertake the process again in a more precise sequence.

“This scheme has the potential to create jobs and inject new life into Hawke’s Bay at the same time as improving the Tukituki River. Forest & Bird refuse to see that and are determined to stall the progress every step of the way.”

He says a Board of Inquiry has carefully and thoroughly reviewed every environmental aspect of the scheme, and even after appeals by both Forest and Bird and Fish and Game, the consents for the scheme have been upheld.

Mr Newman says the focus remains on confirming all elements of the scheme with many tasks completed or approaching completion.

18 April 2016

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