Dodgy Auckland council ratbags

Auckland Council Regional Planning Officer Penny Pirrit has managed to con councillors into believing that a non complying activity status for reclamation of the ports was ‘legally indefensible’.

Ports of Auckland has won a huge victory allowing it to use more of the Waitemata Harbour to park cars after Auckland councillors yesterday caved in on tough rules for reclamation.

In a secret vote, the Auckland development committee narrowly voted 9-8 to weaken its position going into mediation on zoning for the port precinct in the Unitary Plan.

Instead of sticking with the tough line of “non-complying” status decided in August 2013, the committee changed the council position to “discretionary” status.

This will allow the port company to apply for resource consent for further reclamation, which will be publicly notified, but in all likelihood lead to approval.

The Herald understands that the council’s regional planning manager, Penny Pirrit, told councillors that the “non-complying” status was legally indefensible at mediation.

The committee agreed to make further reclamation a “discretionary status” on the proviso that reclamations that are more than minor must be publicly notified and the boundary line for port use is pulled back.

One wonders how the results of a secret ballot are known, by remember this is the NZ Herald.

Apart from that the statement about “legally indefensible” is total and utter bollocks. ??

So what does this mean? In short – the Ports wants an easier ride to reclamation. They’ve been pressing? for an activity status in the proposed unitary plan it has brought out its heavy hitter lawyers and fought through submission to have a relaxed activity status and no doubt hoping that anything better that non-complying or prohibited is a win.

An activity table sets down the criteria for assessment and notification. Status range from easiest to consent to hardest in a cascading manner:

Restricted Discretionary
Non Complying

Notification only generally applies to non notified and discretionary activities but a discretionary activity status will have limited assessment leading to notification. A well argued application can easily avoid notification under a discretionary activity.

Had a more draconian activity status been applied then any reclamation would be fully publicly notified. Now the chances are slim.

Yet again this is another example of the sneaky and furtive council officers pulling the wool over the eyes of councillors. The ‘legally indefensible’ claim by planner Perritt is so far from the truth it is a bold faced lie because Councils for years have been defending the reasons for applying their activity tables to district plans with protest, but certainly not much loss.

There are significant legal tests that apply to this argument, and too much to blog. Suffice to say however this is more about Council protecting it’s own cashflow business than any legal? test and Councillors have been lied too.

Corrupt is as corrupt does.