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Judge Appointed To Lincoln Staff

PIONEERING South Island Environment Court Judge Peter Skelton of Christchurch has been appointed Associate Professor of Resource Management Law at Lincoln University.

Judge Skelton will take up the post on his retirement from the bench in February after nearly 22 years of service.

In 1978 Judge Skelton became the first Environment Court judge to be based in the South Island, expanding a judiciary then centred on Auckland and Wellington. The court itself was created in 1996 from the former Planning Tribunal, which had been set up in 1978 and to which Judge Skelton was the first resident South Island appointee. Judge Skelton's move to Lincoln University and the academic world completes a loop of longstanding. He had an early interest in the work of the Centre for Resource Management, a research and teaching partnership between Canterbury University and Lincoln, and the forerunner of today's Resource Management and Resource Studies Group within the Environmental Management and Design Division at Lincoln.

The head of that Group and Division, Professor Ian Spellerberg, is delighted by Judge Skelton's appointment.

"To have someone from professional practice with such long- standing experience in the area of Resource Management Law contributing to Lincoln University's teaching and research puts us at the forefront of environmental management education," he says.

"Judge Skelton will be teaching into Lincoln's undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and supervising research students as well. It creates a unique opportunity for our postgraduates to work with someone of the highest calibre in their field."

In addition the appointment gives Lincoln a very special cluster of high level expertise in the resources area as Judge Skelton joins two other recent key appointees - Professor of Planning Ali Memon and Associate Professor of Maori Planning and Development Hirini Matunga.

"The presence of such expertise on one campus affirms Lincoln's commitment to resource studies and resource management teaching and research," says Vice-Chancellor Dr Frank Wood.

"Together with environmental biologist Professor Ian Spellerberg and landscape planner Professor Simon Swaffield, we have a team which would be difficult to match in Australasia." Judge Skelton, educated at Christ's College and a law graduate of Auckland University, is looking forward to his new role as an associate professor. He brings to it a profound knowledge of the Resource Management Act, the Public Works Act, the Historic Places Act, and the Local Government Act, all of which have received his attention in the large number of decisions he has written over the years. Common issues dealt with in many of those decisions, which will be closely relevant to Lincoln's teaching, include water and thermal resources; the levying and distribution of public funds from subdivisions and developments; the natural and physical environment including the coastline, forests, landforms, lakes, rivers, productive soils and air; the acoustic environment; retail developments; public safety; exposure to earthquake risk, flooding and erosion; Maori cultural and spiritual values and relationships with ancestral land; and wider heritage issues.

Major cases he has presided over include the Clyde Dam appeals, the Kaitorete Spit sand mining application; the Mataura, Rakaia and Buller River Conservation Order Inquiries; the Doubtful Sound water export proposal, and the Christchurch metropolitan refuse landfill appeals in the early 1980s.


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