5 Sep 2015

Flyover fight 'waste of taxpayers' money'

10:56 am on 5 September 2015

Critics of Wellington's proposed Basin Reserve Flyover say the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has blown millions of dollars of taxpayers' money on a failed project.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve Flyover. Photo: NZTA

The Labour MP for Wellington Central, Grant Robertson, said the NZTA had spent $12 million on planning and court costs, despite being told by an independent board of inquiry that its plan to build a flyover across the iconic cricket ground in Wellington was a "no-go".

Caucus run 21/07/15

Labour MP Grant Robertson Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

In August, the agency lost its appeal in the High Court against the board's decision last year to deny the project resource consent. It said yesterday it would not appeal further.

Mr Robertson said the amount spent on planning and court costs was the same amount that was spent yearly on local roads for the region.

He said the NZTA had ignored the board's advice.

"The board of inquiry was very clear in their decision that the flyover was a no-go but NZTA insisted on an appeal to the High Court.

"It was flogging a dead horse; it was never going to work."

Wellington City Councillor and Save the Basin campaign co-founder Iona Pannett said the NZTA had wasted taxpayers' money.

"I am very disappointed that it's got this far. They've been told for nine years that it's not a good solution.

"Over $10 million of taxpayer money has been spent preparing legal cases, and we're left with nothing and having to admit defeat and go back to solutions which [NZTA has] already rejected."

Back to the drawing board

NZTA spokesperson Jenny Chetwynd said the $12.2 million spent by the agency - including $1.3 million on the latest court action - had not been wasted.

Ms Chetwynd said the spending had given legal clarity for future roading projects, including how the Resource Management Act (RMA) should be applied.

She said it was now time to go back to the drawing board and find new solutions for dealing with the capital's transport woes.

"We want to open that conversation with Wellington City and Greater Wellington about what the future looks like and what improvements are needed," she said.

"The congestion of the Basin Reserve hasn't gone away and we need to really work with all those parties to work out what the right decision is and deliver it together, and that's the future."

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown has suggested an underpass rather than a flyover, similar to the road under the Pukeahu National War Memorial.

She said the NZTA's decision not to appeal the High Court's decision was the right one, and it was a good chance for other options to be explored.

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