Old Dunstan Road: Questions For The NZHPT
Six Inconvenient Questions For The NZHPT
Historic Places Trust Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman, will tonight confront angry Trust members expecting explanations as to why the Trust failed to consult with the Branch, deliberately ignored local sentiment and signally failed in its statutory duty to protect the Old Dunstan Road.
The Old Dunstan Road is widely regarded as possessing significant heritage values. Consequently, Meridian Energy’s proposal to build a giant wind farm on the landscape traversed by the Road was strenuously opposed by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) at the CODC resource consent hearing, because it considered the risk of Project Hayes destroying or significantly diminishing those heritage values to be unacceptable.
Following the granting of consent by the CODC, the Trust gave the Central Otago Branch an undertaking that it would pursue an appeal to the Environment Court and concurrently, initiated the process of registering the Old Dunstan road as a Historic Road.
The NZHPT has subsequently concluded private negotiations with Meridian Energy and withdrew from the Environment Court Appeal, leaving Meridian able to claim that the NZHPT’s concerns have been satisfied.
While it is clear that some secret accommodation has been negotiated behind closed doors in Wellington, it is equally certain that the Central Otago Branch was not consulted, no doubt because senior Trust executives knew that the Branch’s members would unanimously reject any such proposition.
Not only Trust members but all Central Otago communities who value their local heritage will wish to hear Mr Chapman’s replies to the following questions:
1. Who initiated discussions between Meridian Energy and the Trust?
2. Was the proposal to negotiate discussed and agreed by the Trust Board prior to discussions taking place?
3. Did the Trust Board consider and agree the terms of the proposed agreement before the decision was made to withdraw from the Environment Court proceedings?
4. Who made the decision to withdraw from the Appeal?
5. What heritage protections, not already provided for by the Historic Places Act, have been agreed between the Trust and Meridian Energy?
6. Having publicly celebrated the joint Trust / Branch submission to the CODC consent hearing as a model of how Branches and the Trust might work together, why has the Trust ignored its membership and acted in such a covert and arbitrary manner?
Central Otago Branch, NZHPT
Meeting 6.00 pm, 21 May, at St Enoch‘s Church Lounge, Centennial Ave. Alexandra