Govt to fight red zone ruling

9:16 pm on 27 August 2013

The Government is appealing against a High Court ruling that says its buyout offers to some owners of uninsured or vacant quake damaged land are illegal.

Justice Panckhurst has ruled that the Crown offer to pay 46 landowners 50% of their 2007 rateable value was not according to law and should be set aside.

The ruling forces Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to reconsider the purchase offers.

Gerry Brownlee.

Gerry Brownlee. Photo: RNZ

Mr Brownlee has confirmed the decision will be appealed against but will not say anything else until he has had legal advice.

"There are a number of things in that decision that are quite concerning and I think we need to get some clarification around that, I think an appeal is the only way to do it," he says.

A group of land owners calling themselves the Quake Outcasts want to be paid 100% of the rateable value for red zoned properties.

Owners confident appeal will go their way

Spokesperson Ernest Tsao says the Government's appeal is not surprising and he is confident the Court of Appeal will rule in the land owners' favour.

Another member of the group, Stephen Bourke, has two sections in the red zone that he could not have insured if he wanted to because they were vacant.

"We paid market value for them and they were uninsurable, I mean it's just not fair. If you can't insure something, surely if someone's going to take it off you or offer you something you'd expect to get the market value for it," he says.

Mr Bourke says the ruling has given residents some sense of justice.

Insurance expert Duncan Webb says land owners now have a real case to claim the full value of their property.

He says the Government's red zone designation removed the economic value of people's property.

Decision to appeal 'too quick'

The Labour Party says it's surprised the Government is appealing.

Earthquake spokesperson Ruth Dyson says Government lawyers hadn't spent enough time going over such a substantial ruling before the decision to appeal was reached..

Ms Dyson says the property owners will be extremely disappointed the matter is heading back to court, after waiting for such a long time for a decision.

She says they should be offered the full rateable value of their properties instead of half.