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Judicial review proceedings filed against Minister

11 April 2006
Judicial review proceedings filed against Minister

The Whangamata Marina Society is today filing for a judicial review against the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, in the Wellington High Court.

In contention is the Minister’s action in over-riding a recommendation by the Environment Court that the marina project should proceed.

“We will seek an urgent hearing and will argue that the Minister and his officials misunderstood their statutory role,” said the Society President, Mick Kelly.

- The Minister illegally reinvestigated evidential findings of the Environment Court and instigated an investigative consultation process outside that prescribed by statute.

- He 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 new matters on which his decision was based were not referred back to the Environment Court as required under section 119(4) of the RMA.

- The Minister breached natural justice principles by deciding the matter prior to hearing from the Society.

- He also 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.

“The Society feels that we have suffered a serious miscarriage of justice. We invested a huge amount of time and resources in going through the Environment Court just to have the Minister come in over the top and render the Court proceedings null and void.

“We very much look forward to remedying this wrong and hope that the High Court will look favourably on our application for urgency.

“Further delay will only compound the injustice as the conditions attached to the Environment Court ruling relate to existing environment, national and regional policy statements. The more time elapses, the more these will change creating the need for new issues to be addressed and – potentially – sending us back to Square One,” Mr Kelly said.

The Society will file a notice of proceeding, a Statement of Claim, an affidavit in support of the proceedings and a memorandum requesting a swift track.

Copies of these documents can by obtained by applying to the Registrar of the Court.

ENDS

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