Expressway treated as done deal, inquiry told

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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Opponents of the controversial Kapiti expressway have claimed the proposed project is already a "done deal" and is just waiting to be rubberstamped.

A board of inquiry is hearing submissions on the McKays Crossing to Peka Peka expressway.

Yesterday Greater Wellington regional councillor Nigel Wilson, who opposes the project in full, said the transport minister and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) had "carried on as though this hearing is a done deal and you [commissioners] are here as loyal vessels to rubberstamp the proposal".

He said that sentiment was shared by many in the community, who viewed NZTA with mistrust.

"They have been a mine of misinformation from the start."

Waikanae property owner Mark Harris, co-secretary of the anti-expressway lobby group Save Kapiti, said he was appalled by the "paucity of the evidence and the hubris of the public agent that seems to have approached this proceeding as a rubber stamp".

"We have relied on the Official Information Act and the Ombudsman to require NZTA to comply with legislation," Mr Harris said.

Instead of the proposed expressway, he supported a two-lane western link road along with upgrades to State Highway 1.

Waikanae historic homestead owner Glen Hooker said the process had been considered a done deal by those who made the decision 18 months ago.

That was despite evidence and information revealed through the consultation process and brought to the inquiry by concerned residents.

NZTA spokesman Rod James said the inquiry provided an open and transparent avenue for consideration of information provided by the agency, as well as submissions from opponents.

There had been extensive and open engagement with the community since 2009.

That included public consultations, open days, meetings with affected parties, media updates, letters to stakeholders, a staffed information centre at Coastlands, an 0800 information line, a dedicated email address and a project website.

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- The Dominion Post

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