'Contempt' for flyover submitters

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2014

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The Basin Reserve flyover board of inquiry has been criticised for giving submitters only one working day to look over and approve a detailed hearing schedule.

The board is due to start public hearings on the $90 million roading project on February 3, and is due to make a decision by May 31.

Save The Basin campaigner Tim Jones said the group had been emailed a draft hearing schedule late on Friday afternoon which they had to check over and return with any required changes by 5pm today.

The one-working-day deadline following a long weekend showed "contempt" for submitters, he wrote in a blog post.

"Such absurd and unrealistic deadlines raise serious questions about any notion of this board of inquiry conducting a fair, unbiased and objective hearing process."

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne called the time frames "ridiculously tight" and said that Environment Minister Amy Adams had twice rejected a suggestion the deadline for the inquiry be extended.

"[Her response] was that the time frame that had been established was fair and reasonable, and I just don't accept that. For a major project of this type where there's such division, a pragmatic solution . . . to allow people more time to make their case is reasonable."

In response to requests by residents and lobby groups in December, the start date for the hearings was delayed by one week to allow them more time to prepare their submissions.

Mr Dunne said, just like the Ruataniwha Dam inquiry, the process would likely run over its deadlines.

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- The Dominion Post

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