So, it turns out the rot of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme goes deeper. First, we have MPI apparently being gagged as well:
“MPI advised it had ‘similar concerns’ and intended to lodge a submission. Those concerns included the adequacy of the phosphorous management, lack of definition of industry best practice, the use of a nutrient management system called OVERSEER and concerns about the economics of the dam.
“However, these concerns were considerably watered down in MPI’s final submission and the Ministry did a 180 degree turn on the economic impacts. The draft said the dam would be negative, the final submission said it would be positive. Why the change?
And today in Question Time we learn that GNS Science was contracted by the Hawkes' Bay Regional Council to report on groundwater for the scheme, but that they too were gagged after they concluded that information provided by HBRC was seriously flawed and could not be relied upon. Together, it paints a picture of a government hell-bent on irrigating to benefit its farmer-cronies, and willing to stomp all over normal procedure to ensure that their pet project goes ahead.
Which invites the question: can the EPA be trusted to fairly assess the project? Or will they too be politically directed to ensure the desired outcome? Which also shows us the real problem: once Ministers start interfering in processes like this, the outcomes can simply no longer be trusted. If the scheme is approved, it will be tainted by the suggestion of political pressure. And that's not good for anyone.