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High Court decision on pressure sewers announced

8 August 2013

High Court decision on pressure sewers announced

The findings of a High Court hearing into the introduction of new pressure wastewater systems in Richmond were outlined at today’s meeting of Christchurch City Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee.

The High Court decision was released late last week, following a judicial review case brought against the Council by a resident in the Richmond area. The resident challenged the Council's decision to repair Richmond's severely damaged wastewater network by installing a pressure wastewater system.

The Court upheld only one of the three grounds of challenge raised by the resident, finding that the Council’s decision not to consult on the introduction of the new systems was “flawed”. However, as a result of delay in bringing the case, the Court did not overturn the Council’s decision to introduce the new systems or invalidate any steps taken by the Council. Instead, it directed the Council to reconsider its decision to install the system for this resident, after providing Mr Bailey with the opportunity to present his views about it. This will happen in coming weeks.

Chair of the Committee councillor Claudia Reid says, “Following the High Court decision, and with Mr Bailey’s support, we will put an independently chaired panel in place to meet with Mr Bailey. Through this process we will listen to Mr Bailey’s concerns and aim to move towards a positive resolution.”

Council’s City Environment Acting General Manager Terry Howes says the Council decided in October 2011 to introduce new wastewater technologies across the city as part of the infrastructure rebuild.

“The aim is to build stronger systems, better able to withstand any future earthquakes. Many thousands of residents were left without functioning toilets for several months because of significant earthquake damage to the system.

"We went through a thorough process to determine the best system for different areas of the city. In some areas, we concluded that the gravity system was not damaged enough to require replacement; in others we are introducing new pressure or vacuum sewers to make the system stronger,” he says.

At the direction of the Council, SCIRT has started community engagement across the majority of areas where new pressure sewers are going to be introduced. Letters have been sent to properties in the remaining areas to let them know what is planned and that SCIRT will be in touch soon with more information.

Of the areas where community engagement has started:
• 3402 properties have been contacted with information about the new systems, including requests for consent to have infrastructure placed on their property
• 2218 property owners (65.5%) have given consent so far. The engagement process takes some months and is ongoing in many areas.
• 119 property owners (3.5%) have lodged formal objections.

ENDS

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