Residents go into battle

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 08:18 10/10/2012
Rural residents
OPPOSED: Drury and Ramarama residents take to the streets to protest against the Stevenson Group’s proposed industrial project.

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Rural residents set to get a massive industrial project in their backyards are going all-out to get their objections heard - and to let their neighbours know the fight is just beginning.

Drury, Ramarama and Ararimu residents took to the streets over the weekend to protest the proposed 362-hectare Stevenson's Drury South industrial project and to drum up support for a clinic to help people make submissions to Auckland Council on the proposal.

The proposed plan change would rezone a rural flood plain to allow for medium and heavy industrial use. The submission period for the proposal ends next week.

Drury and Ramarama Protection Society chairman Peter Mathias estimates at least 90 per cent of locals are against the proposal.

But many have not bothered to submit because they thought once Auckland Council accepted the application "it was a done deal", he says.

The proposal is still in the application stage and submissions hearings are expected to be held in early 2013.

People need to make their views known, Mr Mathias says.

"In essence if you do not write a submission you are effectively endorsing the project.

"I am concerned that many people do not realise the damage they are causing by doing nothing."

Two further submission clinics will be held in Drury to help people express their views for or against the complex proposal.

The society has also raised $80,000 of its $180,000 target, which will fund expert witnesses and lawyers should the case go before the Environment Court - a scenario Mr Mathias believes is likely.

The society's independent experts are now trawling through the 5000-page plan change document and it is also available for perusal at local libraries and online.

Stevenson Group spokeswoman Alison Hunter says a range of views are expected from the submission process but it would be premature to guess how much support or opposition the proposal has.

But she says the chance to create new jobs and economic benefits has gained the project "significant support", especially with Papakura's high levels of youth unemployment and the need for many locals to travel further afield for work.

The two-hour submissions clinics will be held at the Drury Hall on Tui St today and Monday at 7.30pm. Submissions close Tuesday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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