An economist on the exit strategy for the Dodgy Socialist Dam

The election results over the weekend have pretty much killed off the Ruataniwha dam proposal.

The count against the dam stands at 6-3 in the new Council, with Neil Kirton calling for a moratorium.

Economist Peter Fraser suggests an exit strategy:

It’s the first time in living memory I’ve ever agreed with anything Neil Kirton has said, but he’s right this time about the need to get ‘ducks in a row’. Here’re some suggestions of what those ducks need to look like:

1. Elect a new Chair – with options like Rex Graham, Rick Barker et al. the new council is spoilt for choices.
2. Write to HBRIC Chair Andy Pearce instructing HBRIC to immediately desist from pursuing any further legal action challenging to the CoA decision regarding the status of 22 Ha of conservation land.
3. Write to Conservation Minister Barry stating neither HBRC nor its agents will be joining with her application to seek leave in order to Appeal the CoA ruling and to the contrary, that in light of the election result will oppose any such application in Court.
4. Write to DoC Director General Sanson stating that HBRC will oppose any attempt by the Department to downgrade the status of the 22 Ha of conversation land
5. Instruct HBRIC CEO Andrew Newman that all work conducted by HBRIC in supported of the Ruataniwha process be suspended immediately and to report back to the Council, within 20 working days, of a strategy for the Council to terminate this project. ?
6. Appoint a firm such as EY or PWC to conduct an ex-post review of HBRIC decision making in light of the numerous project off-ramps that have been repeatedly highlighted but ignored by the current HBRIC Board. This Review needs to report back to the new Council within 40 working days so any decision can actioned this calendar year.
7. Establish a sub-committee charged with investigating economic development alternatives, such as the dryland farming institute outlined by Napier’s Barrie Ridler (hint: call it the Ridler Centre for Agricultural Excellence). Again, recommendations before Christmas.
8. Institute a moratorium on intensive land use change within the Tukituki catchment given most of the area is already over-allocated in terms of N leaching (amongst other measures).
9. Institute an immediate policy of monitoring combined with a zero tolerance policy of ‘police and prosecute’ any and all violations of consent conditions – starting with the non-complying Waipukurau sewage ponds.
10. Institute a three year plan for the substantial improvement in water quality in the Tukituki catchment. This could include, but is not limited to:
– Consult with iwi about instituting kaitiaki processes
– regulating for fencing to prevent stock access to waterways (covering sheep and cattle)
– facilitating a tech-transfer programme between farmers and the Ridler Centre that focus on profitable farming and optimal stocking rates, particularly in light of the mounting problems with Overseer
– implement a programme of contiguous riparian planting ‘from the mountains to the sea’ (to be completed within a decade).
– apply the lessons from the Tukituki catchment to the other catchments under HBRC’s control.

The dam is dead, it is time people realised that. It should have been still-born when the plan made no financial, economic or environmental sense. It was a plan based on false assumptions and illegal land confiscations. Unfortunately for the ratepayers the Council was run by a bunch of head nodding muppets who refused to even look closely at the plan.

Supporters speak of the stellar investment opportunity for the?dam, yet not a single institutional investor has put their hands into their pockets to invest. Those that have done due diligence?have without exception all marched for the door. It should tell you something?when not a single institutional investor wants a bar of the project.

If only the Council had proposed a project that made financial sense and addressed environmental issues…then no one would have complained.