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City pleased with last minute change to Bill

Thu, 18 Nov 2004

City pleased with last minute change to Foreshore and Seabed Bill

North Shore City's Mayor George Wood is relieved and pleased that a last minute bid by the city has succeeded in protecting the public's rights in the battle for retaining public access, enjoyment and use along the foreshore at the Bayswater Marina.

A last minute change to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill through a Supplementary Order Paper has preserved the city's quest to have the Minister of Conservation reconsider the May 2002 decision to reduce the width of the marginal strip taken from the Bayswater Marina reclamation from 20 metres to nine metres.

The marginal strip is the land around the coastal edge that remains in Crown ownership for use by the public.

The amendment to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill means that the clause that removes the requirement to reserve a marginal strip from Crown-owned reclaimed land being leased to private interests, will not apply to the Bayswater situation. This is because the change means that the Bill will not apply to decisions of the Minister of Conservation made as a result of proceedings under section 24A of the Conservation Act 1987.

The change effectively preserves the current legal situation with North Shore City having won a High Court ruling in April 2003 that set aside a Department of Conservation ruling that the marginal strip at Bayswater be reduced to nine metres.

Bayswater Marina Limited (BML), the company that the Department of Conservation agreed to lease the marina land to, has appealed the High Court decision. The Court of Appeal has been awaiting the outcome of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill process before deciding whether to hear the case.

If the Court of Appeal case is lost or withdrawn, the Minister of Conservation will now still be obliged to reconsider the decision about the width of the marginal strip at Bayswater, before leasing the land to the marina company.

George Wood says the change to the Bill means the court process can proceed and the public's rights on the issue have been protected.

"If the Government had allowed this Bill to go through unchanged, it would effectively have taken away the public's rights to have the case proceed and win reasonable access to this important coastal area. We are in a judicial process - we still have to await the hearing of the appeal - but now, at least, we have the opportunity to have the Minister reconsider this issue," he says.

Mayor Wood praised the MPs who helped the city win the change to the Bill - in particular Labour MP Helen Duncan and New Zealand First MP Dail Jones.

"They all helped us show the unfair reality of the situation to the Government. The select committee ignored our pleas - and the rushed passage of the Bill meant this was a last-ditch effort to keep the public's rights alive. I'm just relieved we got this through in the end - and I'm confident we'll now win the 20 metre marginal strip we are seeking from the Minister. This land has high recreational value and must be retained in public ownership and control."

ENDS

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