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Cr Richard Northey - Public Meeting Speech Tamaki

17 November 2004

Cr Richard Northey, Tamaki-Maungakiekie ward

Comments prepared for delivery, as chair, of a the public meeting organised by Auckland City Council, at 7pm 17 November, Sacred Heart College auditorium, West Tamaki Road.

The office of the Minister for the Environment called me last night.

I was told the Government would like to work with us, with you, to solve the problems arising from identifying land previously used for horticulture.

I thank them for listening to you.

As a result, I especially thank the chief executive of the Ministry for the Environment, Mr Barry Carbon, for coming here tonight and agreeing to speak and answer your questions.

Today Mr Carbon met with me and officers from Auckland City and the Auckland Regional Council.

Today we have agreed to work collaboratively with the Government and the Auckland Regional Council to then answer one of your major questions:

How can we test properties to erase doubt over their safety?

In Auckland City the nearly 5000 unit titles on former horticultural land are actually sitting on about 230 former farms. Some of those farms housed chemical storage sheds, glasshouses. Most of the areas of those farms we suspect do not pose any risk.

Rather than put each of you through a testing regime at this time – if you are not planning any immediate and major development of your property – we have agreed to look at developing a jointly agreed soil testing programme. We need to agree yet on the thoroughly scientific basis for this, and sharing the cost, possibly between the Government, Auckland City and ARC.

We need an agreed and certain contamination guideline standard to measure the results against.

We will work with the Government and ARC to agree on that too.

That work on setting standards is vital – if we are to tell you, when you apply for a resource consent to develop your property, whether or not you need to test your soils, and what minor levels of contamination are acceptable.

At Auckland City, we will not be asking you to do soil tests when you apply to extend your deck. We will when you plan major earth works, a sub division or major redevelopment on your property. Each case will be considered on its merits.

Both the Ministry and Auckland City will need to get approval for funding, for this proposed policy approach.

Our agreement today to collaborate is the first step – but a major one – toward a fix that will work for everyone.

We must, and will, sort out guidelines, and funding for a decent and agreed programme of soil testing.

We will have fairness. You deserve nothing less.

On Monday night in Avondale, hundreds of your fellow citizens, facing the same worries, passed this resolution:

“That this meeting calls on government to urgently address the matter of guidelines and a programme of testing and funding.”

Tonight I will invite you to do the same.

Send us to work closely with the Government. Send us with a clear mandate to work for a just approach for you and your families.

Ends

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