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Proposal for prison at Wiri referred to Board of Inquiry

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for the Environment
19 November 2010 Media Statement

Proposal for men’s prison at Wiri referred to Board of Inquiry

Environment Minister Nick Smith today announced that he has directed a proposal from the Minister of Corrections’ for the building of a men’s prison at Wiri to an independent board of inquiry.

The Department of Corrections’ plans to build a new 1500-bed men’s prison on the vacant part of the site of the Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility at Wiri, Manukau. To be able to build the new prison, Corrections’ must get approval to alter the existing designation of the site.

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Authority, with support from the Auckland Council, to refer the proposal for a men’s prison at Wiri to a Board of Inquiry,” Dr Smith said. “The application is nationally significant due to the size of the project, the importance of coping with the projected prison population rise, that it will be used by more than one region and the wide public interest in the project.

“Options canvassed for processing this application were consideration by the Auckland Council, referral to the Environment Court or referral to a Board of Inquiry. The disadvantage of the Council process was that as a designation, the Council only makes a recommendation and the final decision is for the Minister of Corrections. The Environment Court process is more formal than a Board of Inquiry and would limit participation by citizens wanting to be heard without legal representation. The Board of Inquiry is the best process for this application in that it is independent of Ministers, will enable communities to have their say and will deliver a decision within nine months.

“I appreciate this project has caused some controversy in South Auckland. I have given particular attention to ensuring the Board of Inquiry has strong community knowledge of the area. This robust one-step board of inquiry process is better for South Auckland than having this issue dragged out thorough years of multiple hearings.”

The Board of Inquiry will be chaired by Environment Judge Melanie Harland. Members of the board include Deputy Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court Caren Fox, resource management consultant David Hill, former Manukau City Council Chief Executive Leigh Auton, former Auckland Regional Councillor Bill Burrill.

Information about the application, the board of inquiry, and how to make a submission can be found at www.epagovt.nz/applications/proposed-mens-prison

ENDS


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