Saturday, July 13, 2024
9.5 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Residents consider a legal challenge to quarry decision

The Underhill Rd quarry in Featherston. PHOTO/FILE

Featherston quarry resource consent

South Wairarapa residents may legally challenge the council’s decision to grant consent to a Featherston quarry without notification.

This was revealed in the public forum of Wednesday’s planning and regulatory committee meeting.

Resident Darrin Goulding said from 50 to 60 people were directly affected by the quarry gaining consent, as well as “the whole Featherston community”.

“The community will legally challenge this and seek appropriate consent provisions that the council officers should have supplied,” Goulding said.

“Our initial assessment is, legally, that this is likely to be a landmark case in terms of Greater Wellington Regional Council and South Wairarapa District Council consent management and competence.

“It is extremely unfortunate and completely avoidable.”

Goulding said the consent conditions the council had enforced would not be rigorous enough to satisfy residents’ concerns.

“The road limit should be dropped to 50kmh,” he said.

“Council should give residents confidence that they will actively maintain and possibly tar seal the road so it is fit for purpose.”

It was made known later at the council meeting that ratepayers would front the costs of any wear and tear on Underhill Rd which may be caused by increased heavy traffic.

Goulding also expressed his concern that Featherston’s water main ran alongside Underhill Rd and worried that the infrastructure was not designed to support the weight of heavy trucks if they pulled over.

Resident Daphne Geisler also submitted in the public forum and criticised the council for not keeping residents updated on the consent process.

The council had a public meeting in November 2020 with concerned residents, answered LGOIMAs lodged, and issued a press release on granting the consent on Friday.

“It is not a council activity, it is an applicant’s activity, but even so, more publicity was released about this than is required under legislation,” SWDC told Local Democracy Reporting early this week.

Geisler said residents had expected updates throughout the process “to make sure all factors were adequately addressed and that concerns were listened to”.

“I don’t know if the consent was right or wrong, but the decision to avoid a conversation and not listen to citizens is always the wrong decision.”

Before elected members discussed the matter, committee chairwoman Pam Colenso read a statement.

“A decision has been made by council officers under Resource Management Act 1991 approving a resource consent for the storage, extraction, and crushing of aggregate on a property in Underhill Rd Featherston.

“It is not appropriate for council to make any actions for officers as this is entirely an operational matter with officers exercising their delegated powers under the RMA.

“Officers must follow the RMA application and decision-making process as set out in legislation and as prescribed by the operative Wairarapa Combined District Plan.

“Parties who are concerned about the council’s recent decision should seek independent legal advice.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen asked council officers to comment on the legality of the consent approval with regards to what is deemed an affected party for consent notification.

“I understand under the RMA you are very prescribed with regards to the identification of [affected parties],” Beijen said.

“To widen the scope may be illegal or result in a lawsuit from the applicant. Can you comment on that?”

Planning and environment group manager Russell O’Leary said the consent was granted without notification and that the council had followed the RMA process, listened to independent consultants, and reviewed relevant reports to make the decision.

Beijen then asked: “To what extent does the granting of this consent change the character intensity and scale of the consent that was granted previously by GWRC to operate a quarry?”

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson said the consents were complementary to each other and “have to be seen in conjunction”.

“There are different conditions that relate to both parties.”

A statement from GWRC in February 2021 makes clear the consent it granted was limited to earthworks.

“Despite recent reports, Greater Wellington has not granted consent for a quarry,” GWRC’s 2021 statement said.

“Appropriate approvals are required from the South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] to be able to operate a quarry at the site.”

“Subsequent to Greater Wellington granting the earthworks consent, SWDC received a consent application for aggregate crushing and stockpiling and will be assessing the amenity, roading maintenance, noise, traffic, and nuisance dust effects which fall under their jurisdiction.”

The GWRC consent had allowed material from the Underhill Rd site to be extracted but not processed there.

In the meantime, extracted material has been trucked to PJ Warren’s principal site on Diversion Rd, bordering the Tauherenikau River.

With SWDC granting consent, PJ Warren Earthmoving can now extract, crush, and stockpile aggregate. — NZLDR

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
scattered clouds
9.5 ° C
9.9 °
9.5 °
95 %
47 %
10 °
9 °
12 °
12 °
12 °