FMC has been closely following the process around the proposed Ruataniwha Dam in the headwaters of the Makaroro river.
FMC chose not to submit to the Board of Inquiry set up to assess the scheme as the views of the community were being well represented by Iwi, local community groups and National organisations:Fish and Game, Forest and Bird and the Environmental Defence Society. The Board of Enquiry recently released its final decision confirming strict limits on the amounts of nitrogen that can leach into the waterways that are being proposed to be irrigated by the proposed dam.
FMC did recently submit against a proposal by the Department of Conservation (DOC) designed to facilitate the proposed dam. The reservoir behind the proposed dam will flood areas of native forest that are currently part of Ruahine Conservation Park. The flooding of the land is inherently inconsistent with the conservation purpose for which the land is held, concessions can not be granted for a development with such a permanent negative effect on the specially protected area.
DOC has sought to tiptoe around this problem by revoking the lands status, in anticipation of exchanging it for a parcel of nearby land. The problem is that as argued by Forest and Bird this proposal is not lawful, and arguably has the effect of collapsing the distinction between stewardship land (which may be exchanged within limits) and specially protected areas, such as Wilderness Areas, Ecological Areas and Conservation Parks which can’t.
FMC is also concerned that scant regard has been paid to the provision for public access in the planning of the land exchange, with negotiations with adjoining landowners to secure public access left to a later date. It must be remembered that a purpose for which Conservation Parks are managed by DOC is to “facilitate public recreation and enjoyment”.