So, having censored itself over the Ruataniwha dam, the Department of Conservation has now been caught conspiring with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to flood a forest park for the scheme:
A legal loophole could let the Department of Conservation swap away 23 hectares of Ruahine Forest Park, to be flooded as part of a proposed Hawke's Bay dam project, without consulting the public.
Internal briefing documents show DOC advised Hawke's Bay Regional Council that a concession to flood a section of the park was unlikely to be granted. Instead, a way around that would be a land swap, which was its preferred position, it told the council.
Under the Conservation Act, DOC cannot exchange conservation land for private land unless it has been downgraded to stewardship land. Before any conservation land can be reclassified, it must go through a public consultation process.
But DOC spokesman Rory Newsam said in this case, Ruahine Forest Park had never been "formally gazetted" as conservation land - though it was "deemed to be managed" as conservation land.
This raises the obvious question of how much other land which we think is protected really isn't because DoC are muppets. But beyond that: isn't the purpose of DoC to conserve? Instead, they seem to be working hand-in-glove with those who want to pillage the conservation estate - our conservation estate - for private gain.
DoC should not be swapping land with people who want to ruin the environment. If the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's dam requires flooding a forest park, then that means they can't build it there. It's that simple.