TCDC Roundly Criticised By Environment Court (Again!)
Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 10:29AM
Bill Barclay


I had signed off for the year, but the Environment Court published its decision on 27 December regarding the DOC appeal against the TCDC rejection of its earlier appeal against the "weak" provisions in the District Plan regarding kauri dieback disease, and "as as they relate to rural, conservation and rural lifestyle land." DOC described the provisions as "toothless."

You won't find the TCDC PR machine rushing into print on this decision - if it does, it will surely be a 'watered-down' version of the proceedings. For Allison Smith's full story in the Coastal News - go here!

TCDC had as usual, sided with the Fed's, and the Landowners Association fronted by Dirk Sieling and his family who sought to have the earthworks provisions retained as "voluntary" without even rudimentary oversight of the potential spread of infected soil through earthworks.

This comes on top of another recent Court rebuke over the coastal setback provisions of the Plan. The absence of provisions in the District Plan that may inconvenience, or restrict the rights of landowners, but which satisfy the most elementary scientific requirements has now met with repeated, and quite unusual rebukes from the bench of the Environment Court.

Principal Environment Court Judge LJ Newbold made his position quite clear in his ruling on this occasion. He leaves no stone unturned in his instruction to the Council to "consult with the parties on processes that should be undertaken, and report as soon as possible to the Court." He expressed "real concern that to date their has been mainly 'talk' and not enough 'do.'" He also noted "the lack of what effective voluntary mechanisms might exist," and "the apparent lack of any proposal for monitoiring in any event."

It is interesting to note that DOC was joined in its appeal by the Waihi Gold Company, and by Waikato Regional Council. TCDC has argued "the practicality of of monitoring and enforcement," and "the unintended consequences like landowners chopping down trees to avoid regulation." It also argued an "administrative burden from having to find and notify every person with an interest in land." -  Rejected by the Court.

Judge Newbold pointed out that the Court was often guided by the preferences of a respondent council, but not on this occasion. Can I suggest that this Council's reticence in regard to implementing any provisions that either inconvenience it, or have any relation 'climate change' will eventually b ecome a major election issue - quite unlike any before. It can't come soon enough in my book! We need new blood prepared to take on these new issues by challenging the tired old dinosaurs around the Council table, along with entrenched bureaucracy.

Have a happy New Year! I will be back later in the month.




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