Kapiti Expressway appeals dismissed

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2013

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Two High Court appeals opposing the Kapiti Expressway have been lost.

Save Kapiti and the Alliance for a Sustainable Kapiti lodged appeals opposing a board of inquiry's consent for the McKays Crossing to Peka Peka stretch of the planned road, but the High Court has dismissed the appeals on all grounds.

The alliance argued the board of inquiry's consent made two errors of law: not including the Western Link Road as part of the baseline, and failing to consider the Environment Minister's reasons for directing the matter to the board.

Save Kapiti argued the Western Link Road should have been included in considerations about the environment. The link road was a two-lane route planned for many years along roughly the same route as the expressway.

Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan applauded the court's decisions. "Bring it on. It will bring a $500 million injection into this community.

"It has been a long conversation for the whole community - opponents and people who supported the road.

"The decision brings certainty. We need to get on with this road now, respectfully acknowledging those who had concerns and saw it through the process."

District councillor Tony Lester was "absolutely delighted".

Save Kapiti spent $80,000 on the board of inquiry hearing and $10,000 on its appeal.

Secretary Mark Harris was disappointed about the court ruling and said the group would investigate whether there were grounds for a further appeal.

"The war is still on. We are not going away.

"The expressway is the wrong thing for Kapiti and the country. It will divide the district, hurt the people that have to live near it, and change the nature of the coast from a community to a dormitory."

Councillor K Gurunathan said Save Kapiti had waged a heroic struggle against the expressway, but he cautioned against further action.

"It is time to let NZTA get on with what they have to do, and for the people of Kapiti to leverage the best economic outcomes in jobs and contracts for locals."

However, Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai Marae chairman George Jenkins said he believed there would be protests by individual iwi members and members of the public when construction started.

Regional councillor Nigel Wilson was disappointed by the decision, but his election challenger, former regional councillor Chris Turver, described it as a logical extension of Transmission Gully.

Labour's Mana MP Kris Faafoi and transport spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said the High Court decision did not change the fact the project was the wrong fit for the region.

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"The Kapiti Expressway is emblematic of the way [this] government operates - running roughshod over the views of locals, ignoring the environmental consequences of transport projects, and throwing robust economic analysis out the window," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Frith said the agency had noted the court decision and would wait to see what happened during the 10-day appeal period before deciding on a construction start date.

- The Dominion Post

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