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Council disappointed at waste minimisation levy judgement

3 April 2006

Christchurch City Council is disappointed at the decision released today by the High Court on the challenge brought by Waste Management Ltd (WAM) to the Council’s waste minimisation levy.

"The Council created the waste minimisation levy with the best intentions," said Mark Christison, the council’s City Water and Waste Unit manager. "We wanted to create a resource to help us get waste-reduction messages and projects out to our residents. It seemed to make good sense to fund it from those involved with creating waste and it was consistent with the council’s user-pays strategy."

Christchurch City Council’s levy was essentially the same as others brought in by councils in Waitakere City, North Shore City and Rodney District. Waste Management last year challenged the lawfulness of these levies and today’s decision has found them all to be unlawful. It means the Council cannot continue to collect the levy.

"We were acting in accordance with the principles of the Local Government Act," Mr Christison said. "We still believe the intent of the Act is to allow councils to impose such a levy but the legislation has been written in such a way that the waste minimisation levy is seen as a tax, which is unlawful.

"We’ll be looking to the Ministry of the Environment to move forward with its proposal for a national waste minimisation levy to support its national waste strategy," he said.

Mr Christison said the council will now need to consider the impact the decision will have on current and planned projects in terms of levels of service and the ability to achieve the council’s waste minimisation targets which are in line with the national waste strategy published by the Ministry.

No decision has been taken as yet about whether to appeal the decision.

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