26 Feb 2016

Real estate agent escapes punishment over coalmine

1:17 pm on 26 February 2016

A real estate agent who sold a house 500 metres from the site of a planned coalmine has escaped punishment.

Terry Mackel and Mandy Boyd, the couple who bought the house for $1,050,000 plus GST in October 2012, only learned about the mine two days after they paid for it.

coal mine

The coalmine was set to be built near Pokeno, in the Maramarua area of northern Waikato. Photo: 123rf

Real-estate licencee Graeme Willson told the Complaints Assessment Committee he first learned about plans for the mine, in the northern Waikato town of Pokeno, when he delivered the couple a Christmas basket after he had sold them the house.

The committee censured him, fined him $1500 and ordered him to apologise. It accepted he likely did not know about the mine, but said he should have been more familiar with the area.

However, upon appeal, the Real-Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal overturned the decision.

"We appreciate that had he read the public notices column of the local newspapers he may well have learned of the mine proposal," it said.

"We feel that the licensee has not failed in any particular way and the overall circumstances were such that he did not know about the mine proposal at material times but that was not due to any inadequacy on his behalf."

It said Mr Willson regretted what happened.

"Mr Willson's attitude is one of sincere regret that the purchaser complainants had suffered stress as a result of learning of their location near the proposed mine but that he was unaware of that proposal at the time the property was sold."

A spokesperson for Fonterra's subsidiary Glencoal Energy said last year plans for the open-cast mine had been delayed.

"We will continue to investigate secure, cost effective alternatives to reduce emissions intensity and contribute to energy efficiency," it said.

Ms Boyd did not want to be interviewed by RNZ News, but said the value of her property would have inevitably gone down had the mine been built.

She said she was hopeful it never would be.

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