Council’s Port conundrum leaked

The Ports of Auckland reclamation is going from bad to worse for Auckland Council as it turns out that the Council has received plenty of advice about what activity status to apply to future reclamation.

A secret legal opinion shows Auckland Council could have pushed for tougher rules against port expansion into Waitemata Harbour.

Instead, the council has voted to ease the rules for reclamation, handing Ports of Auckland a huge victory in its latest quest to reclaim 3ha of seabed for a giant carpark.

The backdown, led by Mayor Len Brown and his deputy Penny Hulse, has led to a public outcry and a protest at Queens Wharf organised for tomorrow.

Prominent guardians of the city’s commerce, environment and culture including Rob Fyfe, Lady Pippa Blake, Barbara Kendall and Neil Finn are among 110 people to have signed an open letter urging the port company to “stop stealing our harbour”.

Councillors have been gagged from talking about the legal opinion and bureaucrats refused to release it to the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act.

The Weekend Herald has been leaked a copy of the legal opinion by lawyer Ian Cowper, which says the council can push for tougher, “non-complying” rules in the draft Unitary Plan, the new planning rulebook for the Super City.

Mr Cowper, a specialist in regional and coastal policies, was asked for an opinion after the port company took exception to the council inserting “non-complying” rules into the first draft of the Unitary Plan in 2013.

What troubles me within this story is how Council has refused to provide the reports and recommendations under LGOIMA.

What is Auckland Council hiding?

If the politicians and officials stand by their decisions as being transparent, honest and law abiding – then they have nothing to hide and the information requested should flow.

I smell more than a dead rat in this story. There are hidden corpses beneath the floor boards.

What’s more – it looks like Len Brown and Penny Hulse have sticky fingerprints all over this mess.

If it turns out that these two politicians have tried to lie and cover up their actions they should resign.

What’s more a review of their actions should be undertaken.

I’m betting that across the board – politicians and Council officials – some unlawful actions have taken place and pretty soon the chickens will come home to roost.

 

– NZ Herald

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