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Dam decision huge victory against big irrigation - Greenpeace

Dam decision huge victory against big irrigation - Greenpeace

In a 3-2 decision released on Thursday, the country's highest court ruled the Director-General of Conservation was not entitled to revoke the special conservation status of a section of Ruahine Forest Park land required for the dam.

"I think that a lot of our legislation was devised in the 1960s and we do have to look at a refresh of the National Parks Act, the Wildlife Act - the Conservation Act is 30 years old", Sanson said before today's judgment.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which first floated the dam proposal several years ago, said it would await advice from its investment company on the implications of the latest court decision. Because of the ruling a law change may be needed "because it wouldn't make sense to take this flexibility out of the system" which allows "eminently sensible" land swaps.

Greenpeace says today's court decision over the Ruataniwha Dam is a major victory in the struggle against big irrigation and the nationwide intensification of dairying.

"If the court had allowed the Government to carry out its destructive plans for the Ruataniwha Dam, it would have set a risky precedent for New Zealand's conservation estate had Forest and Bird not stepped up to challenge the Government's plans".

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Hague says while Forest & Bird still hopes the government respects the Supreme Court's decision, if Barry does attempt to change the law she will be met with the same determination from Forest & Bird as the Minister of Conservation's illegal land-swap was.

"The Ruataniwha dam would have meant more industrial dairying and more pollution in our rivers so today's court ruling is also a win for our rivers", says Greenpeace Campaigner, Gen Toop.

Hackwell said with this decision, millions of hectares of public conservation land around the country is protected.

Forest & Bird said the government could change the law to push the dam through but it would vigerously oppose this as well. "It is clear that it was".

The Court of Appeal originally said the land swap decision wasn't legal, but the Ms Barry has been trying to change that.

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"That did not justify revocation under [Section 18 (7) of the Act]".

The judgement leaves a question mark over the $275-million water scheme, backed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment arm.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has been approached for comment.

It puts the $900 million water scheme, which would have put a dam on the Makaroro River, in jeopardy.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague welcomed the ruling, saying the government "went all the way to the Supreme Court to allow the downgrade and exchange of part of Ruahine Forest Park, which would have led to the destruction of that land".

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The Supreme Court is set to make its final decision this morning on whether the Minister of Conservation can dispose of part of Ruahine Forest Park to make way for the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.


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