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ARC Should Withdraw Contaminated Soils Report

14 June 2005

ARC Should Withdraw Contaminated Soils Report

The Auckland Regional Council should withdraw a widely-publicised ARC report claiming that properties once used for horticultural and farming may pose a health threat, says Councillor David Hay.

"It is very clear that the ARC's research report on contaminated soils published in 2002 came up with a conclusion that is not supported by the evidence," said Mr Hay.

He was commenting on an assessment of the ARC report prepared for councillors of the Auckland Region by Owen McShane from the Centre for Resource Management Studies.

"I am not saying that the so-called Gaw Report is nonsense, but it clearly makes a conclusion which does not appear to be supported by any evidence."

Some councils in the Auckland region have used the ARC's 2002 report to justify attaching statements to their LIM reports indicating that soils may pose a health threat because they have been used for agricultural purposes.

The Crown Law Office, after examining the ARC Report and related documents concluded that, in their opinion, "the test of a real and substantial risk of contamination is not met. Thus, such information ... is not a mandatory inclusion in a LIM."

Both Owen McShane's assessment and the Crown Law opinion expose some inadequate procedures within the ARC which enabled the 2002 report to be commissioned and acted upon and these issues need to be openly discussed and debated said David Hay

As Mr McShane notes, "the fact that the Crown Law opinion has had to be belatedly sought after the horse has bolted, is testimony to the weak policy processes and political leadership within the ARC at the time."

Local councils which have used the ARC's 2002 report to justify attaching statements to their LIM reports indicating that soils may pose a health threat because they have been used for agricultural purpose "should cease the practice," Mr Hay said.

David Hay gave notice of an intention to table Mr McShane's assessment at the next available ARC meeting so the whole issue can be widely debated and appropriate corrective action taken.


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