An issue, which has been raised at a number of candidate meetings, is the status of the Environment Court challenge to the Council’s Proposed District Plan (the PDP).
Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU), the group which was instrumental in getting the infamous coastal hazard lines removed from the PDP, has asked the Environment Court to declare that the Council acted in breach of the Resource Management Act in withdrawing provisions without specifying what was to replace them. The CRU application is currently awaiting a Court hearing.
CRU was instrumental in persuading the Council to independently review the PDP. Following these reviews in mid 2014 the Council decided to accept the review panels’ recommendations. It formally resolved to do 3 things:
1. Withdraw the coastal hazard provisions from the PDP
2. Notify a variation to the PDP to introduce interim coastal provisions
3. Collaborate with interested groups to develop long term agreed solutions to coastal planning – this was to be the coastal advisory group ‘CAG’ which would oversee a number of technical advisory groups TAGs
This is what Council told CRU and the rest of the community it would do.
But by early 2016 Council had done only the first of these things – withdraw the provisions and it became clear that Council had no intention of doing the last two of these things. Council has never offered any explanation for this – it simply changed its mind without even the courtesy of a conversation.
CRU Chairman, Paul Dunmore, says “CRU was left with no option but to go to Court once it became clear that Council was not going to honour all the commitments it made in 2014”.
CRU is trying to protect the interests of all coastal property owners who will be affected by the new PDP and the as yet unknown existing provisions. The Council has been unable to give a coherent explanation of what it is doing, what the legal basis for it is, and how it will affect people in the coastal area.
Council is determined to push through new rules that it does not fully understand itself. When Council withdrew the PDP coastal provisions in 2014 it nullified 444 submissions on these provisions, many/most of them from CRU members.
All these people lost their right to have a say on the existing provisions that will take their place. If the Council had kept its 2014 promise of notifying a variation identifying these provisions then these people and others could have made submissions.
Mr Dunmore stated, “What we are facing now is a confusing mix of provisions of very doubtful legality that even the Council can’t properly explain. Having fought for 4 years to protect our members from proposals based on bad science and bad law we are not prepared to let this situation continue. It is time for Council to keep its word, follow the expert advice it accepted in 2014, act with its community not against it, allow submissions on coastal provisions, and stop wasting our money on lawyers and consultants who think they know better than the people who live here.”