Lawyer: Developer ignored court findings

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

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Queenstown Airport's lawyer yesterday claimed developer Alastair Porter showed no regard for previous findings in an Environment Court battle over undeveloped land.

The second day of a resumed hearing in the battle between the airport and Remarkables Park (RPL) developer Mr Porter kicked off with evidence from planning expert Michael Foster, a New Zealand Planning Institute past president.

In September, the High Court referred the case back to the Environment Court to consider whether assessment of alternative land was adequate in relation to fairness claims and the scarcity of industrial land in Frankton.

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) lawyer Matthew Casey, QC, said the airport consistently explored alternatives between the late 1990s and 2008 and claimed Mr Porter showed no regard for previous findings of the court.

"QAC says it gave proper consideration to alternatives, throughout the period . . . QAC consistently explored options that did not include RPL land. It was only after development on the northern side was shown to be unworkable and unsuitable that it turned its attention to Lot 6."

His submission said there was an expectation that Remarkables Park acted rationally and responsibly.

"As Mr Porter demonstrated in his evidence he has no regard for the findings of this court and its decision dealing with the issues he claims to be concerned about.

"A party seeking to invoke equitable principles must themselves act equitably. RPL showed that it is intent on pursuing self interest."

Remarkables Park claims that in the absence of a mutual agreement the airport is unable to alter or change the designation of Lot 6 land to the south, land the airport prefers for development of general aviation.

Mr Foster was asked about land swap deeds from the 1990s and provisions requiring mutual agreement of any changes to designation.

"The deeds were set up to establish a dialogue, there's nothing to say there may not be a significant change where a requiring authority may be able to use its powers irrespective of what the deeds say."

He also said he considered the national significance of the airport overruled any question of land availability.

Lot 6 was subject to a notice of requirement by the airport and labelled as nationally significant by the Environment Minister in early 2011. The airport says the land is the only suitable area for an expansion of general aviation.

The hearing before Judge Jane Borthwick and commissioners continues today.

 

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