Rangitikei annoyed by abandoned appeal cost

ZARYD WILSON
Last updated 12:00 28/03/2014

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The Rangitikei District Council has hit out at a Palmerston North city councillor whose abandoned Environment Court appeal cost it $20,000.

The district council was last year granted a 24-year consent for the Hunterville wastewater treatment plant to discharge water into the Porewa Stream.

But Palmerston North city councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell and Wellington-based William Demchick appealed the decision to the Environment Court.

Cr Teo-Sherrell said their concerns included a lack of consideration for other systems, no standard for nitrogen levels being discharged, and the process getting under way before it was publicly notified.

The district council had already spent $20,000 on the court process before Cr Teo-Sherrell and Mr Demchick withdrew their appeal on March 14.

District council chief executive Ross McNeil said the withdrawal of the appeal was a "positive" but he had some concerns about it being lodged in the first place.

He said the process to get the consent had been robust.

He acknowledged the pair's right to appeal but said "it certainly was an action that resulted in significant cost to this council and this community . . . for no real benefit to this community, the ratepayers and, dare I say it, the environment".

Cr Teo-Sherrell defended the cost, saying if the process had been followed properly it would not have occurred.

"They should have thought about that when they put in the plant that cost $800,000 when it doesn't do the job," he said. However, he would not give the reason why the pair withdrew the appeal.

"That's for our own reasons that we're not divulging at the moment."

Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said cases where individuals took on councils over such issues appeared to be increasing.

"More and more we are seeing smaller councils being picked on in terms of test cases," he said.

"I think it is extremely poor."

Mr Watson said Local Government New Zealand needed to consider setting up a "fighting fund" to defend similar cases. The plant was built in 2012. The consent took effect on March 7 this year.

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- Manawatu Standard

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