Bruce Bisset: Scheme so cunning it’s diabolic

And you can pin a drowned rat on it.

It should come as no surprise the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme now has a National Government minister actively fighting in its corner, apparently willing to undermine the status of the very lands she is charged with protecting in order to birth this monstrosity.

Yeah. ?So much for New Zealand’s favourite grandmother looking after our conservation estate.

After all, National is fixated on the industrial farming model and see nothing wrong with polluted only-wadeable rivers and forcibly-chlorinated drinking water if it means being able to use our precious resources to churn out more cheap bulk commodities.

Whether the world needs them or not. And whether our farmers go broke producing them while our clean green image gets covered in excrement, or not.

So Conservation Minister Maggie Barry’s decision to front a challenge to the Court of Appeal’s ruling that conservation park land cannot be given away willy-nilly was the next logical – albeit deplorable – step to take to try to get the RWSS over the line.

Deplorable because this is a scheme which has been amply shown to have no redeeming features economically, socially or environmentally, and which should now be quietly buried in the white elephant graveyard – yet is instead being used to force a precedent that will put all so-called “protected” land at risk.

The scheme has been dead in the water for some time, but there are special interest at play here. ?And now that the Government has gotten involved with a regional spat, the likely outcome will be achieved through a Might is Right approach.

Taking DoC land would require the connivance of a Minister of Conservation willing to “downgrade” the land in question by revoking its existing status so as to enable it to be taken for a public work.

However, there is one snag in this cunning scheme, which is that the 22ha is not merely a “conservation area” but is part of a “specially protected” area: the Ruahine Forest Park.

Since the park is a 40-year old legal entity in its own right it seems to me Ms Barry would face the fraught task of having to revoke the status of the entire 932.6sq km of said park in order to then carve off the 22ha HBRIC wants so that it could take that bit for it reservoir.

Would she – or rather, John Key’s Government – go so far as to enrage every even half-aware conservationist by doing something so drastic? With an election year coming up, and bearing in mind it would be a publicly notified process, I doubt it; but we shall see.

National should stay well away from this.

But they won’t.


– Bruce Bisset, Hawke’s Bay Today