7 Apr 2010

Council ordered to pay $100,000 to developer

8:29 pm on 7 April 2010

The Auckland Regional Council has been ordered to pay almost $100,000 in costs to a developer after the Environment Court found the council failed to act fairly and impartially.

The costs were awarded to Waiheke Island Airpark Resort Limited after the council appealed against a decision allowing further development around an airfield on the island.

Twenty-six visitor accommodation units, 11 single aircraft hangars, a terminal building and a coffee shop are proposed.

The judge said the regional council acted unreasonably, causing the developers to incur unnecessary costs and its refusal to settle smacked of taking the position of placing all obstacles in the path of the developer.

The judge also said the council chose to call evidence that was seriously deficient, with its witnesses answering questions in an objective fashion.

Developer Neil Greer is confident he will manage any environmental impact from the development successfully.

Mr Greer understands and respects the concerns of residents who are opposed to the development, but says he has gone to considerable effort to mitigate any environmental impact.

However, environmental group Forest and Bird Waiheke says the court's ruling sets a dangerous precedent.

A spokesperson, Brian Griffiths, says the area is categorised as a site of ecological significance. He believes the regional council was acting in a caring way for the environment and the ruling does not give much confidence for future decisions.