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Auckland Council SH20 Submission Fails Communities

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Friday 1 August 2009

Auckland City Council SH20 Submission Fails Affected Communities

Yesterday’s Auckland City Council’s Transport Committee discussed and finalised a submission to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) on the latest State Highway 20 (SH20) Waterview connection project. After hearing many points raised by eleven residents and community groups, and hours of debate on a comprehensive series of amendments from City Vision-Labour Councillors, the Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) majority group on Council still chose to support the National Government’s position over the clearly expressed wishes of affected communities.

Councillor Leila Boyle said, “I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of yesterday’s meeting. City Vision-Labour takes Council’s role and responsibility at this stage of the SH20 Waterview project very seriously. Auckland City Council’s duty, as the local authority through which this motorway will pass, is to strongly advocate to the Government on the option that will be the best for our affected communities The huge amount of mitigation required for a surface connection anywhere along the route means that anything other than a twin bore tunnel is untenable. The result is a bland and insipid Council submission which mirrors National Party policy and abdicates Council’s responsibility to the affected communities within our boundaries.”

Councillor Richard Northey said, “All the C&R Councillors, led by Deputy-Mayor David Hay and backed up by Transport Chair Ken Baguley, rolled over, and, for political reasons, block voted for the National Government’s destructive part-surface option. Deputy Transport Chair and Roskill Councillor John Lister and Avondale Community Board Councillor Noeline Raffills sat mute through the hours of passionate debate with John Lister opening his mouth only to vote down the many City Vision-Labour amendments which advocated ways to reduce the devastating local harm the motorway would do. I am particularly disappointed that all C&R Councillors voted against Councillor Boyle’s motion simply to restate the Auckland City Council's long stated preference that if the Waterview connection is built it must be by using twin bore tunnels along the bulk of its length. Cost should never be a reason for supporting a roading option that will prove devastating for both the local community and the environment.”

Councillor Cathy Casey said, “In failing to support the twin bored tunnel as its preferred option, this C&R Council has let down the people of Waterview and is no more than a puppet of the National Government. The current plan threatens the viability of Waterview School and Kindergarten. Do C&R Councillors really not care for the learning environment of the students and staff of the Waterview School who will be just a stone’s throw from the noise and dust of motorway construction for almost five years or that the school’s pool will be unusable during that period and the children will not be able to learn to swim locally?”

Councillor Graeme Easte said, “The cost of mitigation for this route will be very high as this is the first time in decades that a major new motorway is slated to carve through a series of long established communities. This motorway will directly undermine the key Council policy of building stronger communities. Money saved by reducing the mitigation comes at the expense of the affected residents and communities; not just the hundreds directly in the path of the bulldozers who will be compensated, but the thousands who will continue to live close to the new motorway and who will not receive a cent.”

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “Oakley Stream is a regionally significant waterway and this project will cause it to suffer the fate of culverting, being inundated with stormwater runoff from the 10-12 acres of additional impermeable road surface, and being visually dwarfed by the huge flyovers. A quiet walk by the stream in the natural environment will be a thing of the past if this SH20 motorway extension goes ahead as planned by the Government. A prized ecological site made more stunning by volunteers planting thousands of trees over the last 10 years will be gone. This C&R Council has failed in their duty to make it clear to the Government that mitigation is only possible if the tunnel option is adopted. Council’s own urban design review team gave advice that made this quite clear and C&R chose to ignore that strong advice.”

“I am also horrified that C&R are mirroring their National Party masters by supporting the fast tracking of this project and the use of the call-in powers of s140-150AA of the Resource Management Act which are available for proposals of national significance. While City Vision-Labour recognises this project is regionally, and probably nationally, significant, we also believe that, due to the complexity of running this section of new motorway through a long-established community and the level of distress this project has already caused, the Council should strongly advocate for the call-in process not to be used. The usual Council hearings process would allow for all those affected to have their say and be more robust and accessible. It would give a better outcome for all of us because the Council will be able to participate directly on mitigation and draft appropriate conditions but C&R refused to even consider this,” Councillor Boyle concluded.

All City Vision-Labour media releases are available on our website www.cityvision.org.nz


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