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Hearing into Minister’s veto of marina begins

Hearing into Minister’s veto of marina begins

The Whangamata Marina Society’s judicial review into Conservation Minister Chris Carter’s handling of the marina issue begins this Tuesday in the Wellington High Court before Justice Wild.

The Society is seeking to have the Minister’s decision set aside on the basis that it is illegal, unfair and unreasonable.

“We are confident of our case and will have a strong presence in the court room with a number of supporters coming down from Whangamata for the three day hearing,” Society President Mick Kelly said.

The Society invested $1.3 million and 13 years in getting the necessary resource consents through local and regional government and ultimately through the Environment Court.

“To have the Court’s recommendation overturned by the Minister after this exhaustive procedure on the basis of uncontested submissions from disaffected third parties, some of whom had not bothered to engage in the consents process or in the Environment Court hearings, is just not on,” Mr Kelly said.

The Society’s arguments are that the Minister and his officials misunderstood their statutory role:
• the Minister illegally reinvestigated evidential findings of the Environment Court and instigated an investigative consultation process outside that prescribed by statute;
• the Minister gave “veto” weight to protection of the salt marsh area and tangata whenua values, and failed to give any or adequate weight to mandatory relevant considerations under Part II of the Resource Management Act, including the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement;
• the Minister was influenced by information received from opponents of the marina outside the Environment Court process and before he had considered fully the Court’s decision and documents;
• the Minister breached natural justice principles by deciding the matter prior to hearing from the Society, and;
• the Minister breached the Society’s legitimate expectation that he would exercise his discretion consistently with an agreement entered into between the Society and the Department of Conservation on the Minister’s behalf in 1998 and a Memorandum filed with the Environment Court on the Minister’s behalf in 1999.


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