ECan disappointed with costs ruling on landscape protection for Banks Peninsula

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is disappointed with the Environment Court’s costs award to the Christchurch City Council and Federated Farmers in its claim against ECan for the Banks Peninsula District Plan landscape protection hearing.

The City Council has been awarded $30,000, Federated Farmers $35,000.

ECan chair Sir Kerry Burke says that a key ECan objective is to protect and sustain Canterbury’s regionally significant landscapes. ECan remains extremely concerned about how it can achieve this in a litigious environment and believes that the costs award is an unnecessary use of ratepayer money.

“The City Council did not have to pursue this course of action and we are disappointed that the Environment Court has awarded costs,” says Sir Kerry. “A resolution could have been reached through inter-council dialogue without one party resorting to legal action. This action is yet another cost to ratepayers.”

ECan chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins also expressed disappointment with the ruling.

“ECan worked closely with the other parties when formulating the Banks Peninsula District Plan, including the City Council and Federated Farmers and ensured full disclosure of all information,” says Dr Jenkins.

“It must be recognised that there were points of difference that surfaced during the case and compromises were made during mediation, and by the court in adopting rule changes rather than map changes. Such differences stem from having a healthy democratic system. The action taken by the City Council and Federated Farmers however does not help that process or those it serves.

“We are committed to continuing to work with the City and key stakeholders in a constructive and collaborative way to deliver outcomes for the ratepayers of the region.”

Sir Kerry says that following the ruling, the task for ECan,the City Council and Federated Farmers is to rebuild and strengthen relations between all parties.

“The task now is for ECan and the other parties to work together to avoid such actions in the future. A strong relationship between our organisations is vital if we are to achieve our long-term strategic objectives for greater Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region. That cannot happen if we do not have dialogue and parties choose to resolve issues and points of difference in court,” he says.

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