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Council seeking to recover costs of court proceedings

1 July 2008

Christchurch City Council has lodged a claim for costs from Environment Canterbury (ECan) and another party, Pacific Investment Trust, for the money spent defending their challenges to landscape protection on Banks Peninsula in the Environment Court.

Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker said the Environment Court found almost completely for the Christchurch City Council’s position and was critical of Environment Canterbury saying its case went well beyond the scope of the appeals. The court also said that ECan had proceeded with its appeal after a mediated settlement.

Christchurch City Council will claim $158,312 in costs, which is half of the total cost for legal and consultant fees of $316,624 incurred defending the agreed landscape protection areas to be included in the Banks Peninsula District plan.

No claim is being made against several other parties who took part in the appeal because they did not cause unreasonable costs or take things further than would usually be expected in such an appeal.

Mr Parker said that parties to appeals on district plans normally expect to pay their own costs. "In opposing the Banks Peninsula landscape areas, ECan put a case beyond what their formal notice of appeal, or in fact what any other parties’ notices of appeal, asked for. The challenge was also inconsistent with the agreement they had reached with us," Mr Parker says.

"We then had to spend additional ratepayers money to defend this challenge from ECan. In claiming costs, we are saying that they need to be the party to explain to their ratepayers the rationale for their action and the cost incurred."

It will cost between $5500 and $6000 in legal fees to apply for costs.

Federated Farmers supported the Christchurch City Council.

Mr Parker said landscape protection under the Banks Peninsula District Plan was developed over 10 years. "There was ground-breaking cooperation between the Council and the rural community and other community stakeholders, including ECan, " Mr Parker said.

"We had reached agreement on a good outcome for all parties and then ECan decided to lodge its challenge wanting to increase protection to cover around 75 per cent of the Peninsula compared with the about 25 per cent recommended by our consultants."


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