June 19, 2008

ECan Keeps Costs Secret


Environment Canterbury will not reveal the cost of its Environment Court appeal on Banks Peninsula landscape protection.

ECan has also decided not to appeal against the judgment to the High Court on points of law.

In December last year, the regional council decided, behind closed doors, to appeal to the Environment Court an already protracted land-use case on rules surrounding Banks Peninsula land development.

This month the court ruled that landowners were able to farm and build on about three- quarters of the peninsula and increased the minimum subdivision size from 4ha to 10ha in recognition of high landscape values and threats from over- intensification.

ECan chief executive Bryan Jenkins said the decision not to appeal had been made after a discussion with ECan's council.

Asked how much the appeal cost, Jenkins said the 11-year process, including mediation, made it difficult to quantify. "Overall, the investment in time and effort means 95 per cent of the issues we raised during the planning process have been resolved to our complete satisfaction and the others we are quite comfortable to live with. We wouldn't be able to separate out a cost - not over that period of time."

ECan North Canterbury representative Ross Little said he had unsuccessfully asked the question of cost, given that expert witnesses and lawyers would soon be sending in their bills and there would have to be an evaluation for the amount of staff time involved.

Jenkins said talks on landscape protection over many years had been productive and not characterised by a "them and us" mentality. "The various parties - council staff and local councillors, Federated Farmers, community groups and landowners - were able to agree upon a number of issues through productive mediation leading up to the recent Environment Court case," he said.

"We acknowledge the effort spent by all parties to resolve most of the landscape issues raised. But in the end mediation failed to get sign-up from all parties in some key areas and the court case was necessary to achieve some useful protections for Banks Peninsula."

(c) 2008 Press, The; Christchurch, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.