Saturday, 21 June 2014

Two monsters

The urban/rural fault line was exposed yesterday when farmers became protesters, parading through downtown Waipukurau under the slogan "Don't damn the dam", an upside-down remix of the classic 1973 slogan.

Who were they shouting at? Surely not the big dollar investors - those dudes pulled out ages ago for purely financial reasons. You might have thought that a crap business case would kill the whole idea stone dead, but you'd be wrong. Because this is a pet project of the Council, so the costs of pushing ahead are being socialised throughout Hawkes Bay, which has some pretty poor residents.

No, the more likely villains for the protesters were the members of the Board of Inquiry established by the EPA acting under modern legislation.

You'll never guess what these Board of Inquiry twits did. They didn't just listen to scientific evidence about the impact of nitrates on water quality, they took it seriously. Result: nitrogen leaching caps that will devastate farming, according to Irrigation NZ, a lobby group.

So the dam has been killed twice. Once because the numbers didn't stack up even before the environmental issues were determined, and then again a second time to preserve water quality.

Its pretty odd that a twice-killed dam is still not quite dead. Must be some kind of zombie.

Since this is Ruataniwha, maybe there are two monsters involved somewhere. If so, one of them is surely the urea business, which has gulled farmers into thinking that nitrogen can only arrive on the back of a truck. These farmers say "We can't farm under those leaching limits". And its true: they can't. But the real limit is in their minds - others can and do farm successfully and profitably with minimal nitrogen leaching.

I'm not sure what the other monster is. Maybe those laying the astroturf for this protest?


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