Stalled train costs ratepayers $50,000

JIM CHIPP
Last updated 13:17 06/02/2013

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Upper Hutt Leader

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Applying for a consent for activities in regional parks will be more expensive in future after half a dozen complex ones cost ratepayers dearly.

A printing museum at Queen Elizabeth Park, riding for the disabled at Battle Hill, Pauatahanui Pony Club's new clubrooms, Paekakariki Surf Club and amateur radio aerials at Belmont all took a lot of Greater Wellington staff time and money but a heritage railway proposed for the Rimutaka Incline topped the bill.

A Greater Wellington announcement on the increased charges said 300 hours of officers' time, numerous public notices and administration costs for the planned railway added up to "well in excess of $20,000".

However, council social and cultural wellbeing committee chairman Nigel Wilson said it was much more.

"In fact the real cost of the application was probably $50,000, all up and that is basically a private enterprise. The bottom line is - fifty grand of public money to process one application.

"An American billionaire could come along and say 'I like that railway; I'll buy it'. And no-one would think about paying back the $50,000."

The Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust withdrew its consent application early last year, but flagged its intention to lodge another in coming years.

The council had only been able to recover $175 in charges.

Mr Wilson said the new fees would be very similar to those charged by the Department of Conservation and other councils, but would not fully recoup costs.

A deposit of $1610 would be charged for non-notified resource consent applications and a notified application $5106. Officers' time would be charged at $110 an hour.

However, the council reserved discretion to waive or reduce fees for non-profit or charitable organisations, Mr Wilson said.

"If the Scouts wanted to hold a jamboree, we could make it affordable . . . there are public good aspects to a lot of these things."

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- Upper Hutt Leader

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