26 Mar 2015

Ports company confident plan will progress

1:56 pm on 26 March 2015

Ports of Auckland said it had done everything right in planning for their expansion of the Bledisloe wharf.

Hundreds of people have protested against the extension of the wharves, and some Auckland councillors and Labour MP Phil Goff have called for further discussion on the plan to extend the wharf in Waitemata harbour by 100 metres.

Spokesperson for Ports of Auckland, Matt Ball, said it was confident they had done what they had to, and the extension would go ahead.

"We have gone through the process, we have stuck with the rules, we believe we've don the right thing, and our position is relatively strong, but you never know with a legal process."

Mr Ball said the plans had been on the company's website for the public to see.

However Auckland city councillor Sharon Stewart said the council did not have enough information before it gave the go ahead.

Ms Stewart said the council voted on the proposal in the last few weeks without being fully briefed and said she would welcome a judicial review of the decision.

The Urban Design Forum, a group opposed to the wharf expansion, is considering court action to try to block it.

The Forum has been told by a legal expert that a judicial review could block the scheme and is will meet tomorrow morning to make a decision on whether or not to proceed.

Protesters on Queen's Wharf.

Protesters on Queen's Wharf on the weekend. Photo: RNZ / Murielle Baker

University of Auckland associate professor Kenneth Palmer, who specialises in environmental law, said the council chose not to notify the public because it considered the environmental effect of the project to be minor.

But he said if a High Court judge considered the effect on the environment to be more than minor, that would then force the whole process to start afresh, with some public consultation.

Professor Palmer said it could be before the courts for up to two years, and that was clearly something Ports of Auckland would want to avoid.

Spokesperson for the group Stop Stealing Our Harbour has confirmed further action was planned, and has not ruled out going to court.

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