As has been reported elsewhere, in a quick decison, the High Court dismissed the Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU) appeal on the Environment Court’s ruling on the council’s Coastal Hazards provisions and upheld the Environment Court’s decisions from earlier this year in which CRU got some of what it wanted, but not all.
The Environment Court rejected CRU’s contention that Council should have publicly notified the coastal hazard provisions of the 1999 Operative District Plan for submission and hearing, given its intention that they remain in place until new provisions could be developed.
Appeals on these types of rulings can only be made on points of law, and as observed in the earlier post, the arguments presented were so turgid that even we had difficulty following them.
It was apparent from the judge’s remarks and body language at the hearing that he didn’t think much of what the CRU’s appointed advocate, Mr Mitchell, had to say in his 90 minute monologue.
At the start of the hearing, the judge said that the parties were not as far apart as it might appear in the trenches — which didn’t bode well for CRU.
Mayor Guru understandably was pleased the council successfully defended a legal challenge for a change, or in his words “the court has provided clarity on this matter.” The council “will now focus its efforts on developing fit-for-purpose coastal hazard provisions based on revised coastal hazard assessments.”
“New coastal hazard provisions will be developed through a collaborative process involving the Kāpiti Coast community and a wide range of stakeholders, and will be informed by regional working groups and national guidance and policy which is currently under development,” says Guru.
The coastal hazard provisions of the Council’s 1999 Operative District Plan will continue to apply until new provisions are developed, publicly notified, and adopted through a plan change.
However, CRU fears residents will lose their rights to protest and says residents still deserve a fair say.
Chair Paul Dunmore says the issue was the process that KCDC has been using to develop its new District Plan.
At an earlier stage, the Environment Court had ruled that what KCDC had done was unlawful in part. In response KCDC made last-minute changes to its proposed plan.
The High Court has declined to go further than the Environment Court had done.
CRU’s view is that this frees KCDC to develop future coastal hazard rules which will be constrained by various policies that have now gone into the new plan.
“We fear that residents will be prevented from challenging those policies or arguing for better coastal protections,” says Mr Dunmore.
“Hundreds of submissions by residents against the original plan were discarded by KCDC. These submitters will have to start again and will not be allowed to challenge any aspects of the plan that KCDC chooses not to reopen, even if they limit the right to protect one’s own property against coastal hazards.”
“The High Court decision is disappointing, because the process remains unfair and the KCDC juggernaut can now proceed as planned. But Courts cannot rule on what is fair, only on what is lawful.
“CRU will participate in the future process for developing coastal hazard rules, as far as we are allowed to.”
CRU Contact: Paul Dunmore (Chairer) 902 3126; CRU@dunmore.nz www.cru.org.nz