Red zone and buyouts 'not illegal'

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 12:27 24/07/2013
Roger Sutton
CERA BOSS: Roger Sutton

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The Government's decision to declare parts of Christchurch a red zone and seek to buy land was made outside of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act - but it was not illegal.
 
Wednesday, was the third and final day of the Quake Outcasts' High Court bid for a judicial review of the Government's compensation policy for red-zoned land.

Counsel David Goddard defended the Government's decisions.
 
He told the court the CER Act provided "additional powers to the normal common law powers" the Crown has, such as the power to buy land.
 
"Yes, the decision was made outside the framework of the Recovery Act but what was decided didn't require the statutory powers given in the Act," Goddard said.
 
There was also no legal requirement for the Cabinet to carry out consultation of the red zone proposals, he said. 
 
"It would have been better for these proposals to be consulted on but that is not the question," he said.
 
"It's clear beyond any argument that exercise of the Crown's common law power to acquire land...does not engage any consultation obligation."
 
Goddard said the Crown did not require the land "for the purposes of recovery" but instead wanted to "give people a choice".
 
The 68-strong Quake Outcasts group wants the declaration of the red zone to be illegal and the Christchurch City Council ordered to continue essential services for those who wish to stay in the red zone.
 
The group is also seeking buyout offers at 100 per cent of their property's 2007 Rateable Value.
 
In September 2012 owners of uninsured residential properties or vacant and commercial sites were offered 50 per cent of RV for their land only.
 
Justice Pankhurst asked if there was any evidence to show the Government had made enquiries into the situation confronting uninsured landowners and discussed solutions. Goddard said no.
 
Counsel for the Quake Outcasts will reply to Goddard's arguments later today.

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