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Drop the water of appeal idea, local TDC councillors urge

February 18th, 2010
(Press release)

Motueka-based Tasman District councillors have called on the Motueka Community Board to abandon its plans to appeal to the Environment Court about water resources. (See story last week.)

"The whole question of water resources and future uses was carefully considered by an independent Commissioner who took into account all relevant factors," says Engineering Services Chair, Councillor Trevor Norriss, on behalf of himself and Councillors Barry Dowler, Eileen Wilkins and Jack Inglis.

"The plain fact is that all the concerns raised by the Community Board were addressed during the hearing and rejected by the expert independent Commissioner. Suggestions that climate change effects were not considered are completely incorrect, as council evidence was based on the appropriate expert reports from NIWA.

"Similar allegations about the effects on shallow bores were found to be without substance. As chairman of the Engineering Services Committee, I have been extremely careful to ensure that Motueka's water needs are protected not only for now, but also for its future growth.

"There has been significant research undertaken to establish the amount of water available, and it is quite clear that the volume of water that could go into the 'rural three' zones is very minor and well within the capacity of the aquifer."

The Councillors point out that if the Community Board does decide to appeal the Council decision, the Board itself will incur costs which will have to come from its own budget, none of which was originally provided for purposes such as the Community Board is currently proposing.

"That will only be the beginning of the costs," says Councillor Norris. "If this proceeds to the Environment Court, the council will have to restate its original case in full, involving solicitors and the calling of expensive, independent witnesses. The ratepayers will incur another $20,000, at least, in legal fees and other costs. This is a frivolous objection based on hearsay and a refusal by some Community Board members to accept the expert evidence that has been placed in front of them.

"If the Board members really believe that their claims have merit, perhaps they should lodge the appeal in their own names, instead of hiding behind the ratepayer-funded Community Board.

"When the Environment Court inevitably rejects the appeal, we could then ask for costs to be awarded to offset the ratepayer's expense. In a democratic society, the idea of a Council Community Board appealing the decision of its own elected Council really is a bit silly," concludes Councillor Norris.

Comment by Tara Forde, member of the Motueka Community Board:
[Posted 24 Feb 2010]

I am extremely bothered by last week's statement by the head of the Engineering Services Chairman about a matter relevant to the Environment and Planning Committee. It is exactly this conflict of interest that the Motueka Community Board is concerned about that is leading us to consider appealing the decision to take more of Motueka's water.

The TDC is trampling over existing water users rights, and this will cost Motueka ratepayers when they allocate it out of here. TDC wouldn't be trying to increase the water take if they didn't want to build the water pipeline. There will be drawdown effects that will mean some bores will run dry. The targeted rate will add a lot to Motueka's rates for the next 20 years, which is silly when what we have now is working.

Finally, perhaps Trevor should consider that the Community Board are actually representing valid resident concern that the council and councilors have steadfastly ignored throughout the 'consultation' process. Democracy means you listen, and adjust as necessary, rather than use bully boy tactics of intimidation.


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