Save Kapiti is heading for the Supreme Court
By Roger Childs
If they (New Zealand Transport Agency) and Minister Steven Joyce had not interfered in 2009, we would already be driving on a second bridge over the Waikanae River… “Save Kapiti” spokesman Mark Harris
Pushing on for the Western Link Road
Save Kapiti is to continue its legal opposition to the planned McKay’s Crossing to Peka Peka section of State Highway One. Launched in 2009 as a road of national significance by Transport Minister Steven Joyce, the concept of pushing a four lane motorway through the heart of the Kapiti Coast has always been controversial.
The Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) had been keen to see the long planned two lane Western Link Road (WLR) go ahead on the decades old sandhills designation. This was aimed at
- easing traffic congestion
- building a much needed second vehicular transport bridge over the Waikanae River
- providing alternative local access within the Kapiti area.
The new National Government wants a motorway
However, the government through the NZTA, came up with two proposals of its own for an expressway route through the area, but then added a third on the sandhills after vigorous lobbying from businesses and other local interests. All three ideas were for a 100kph, four lane motorway and The Western Link Road was set aside.
Although the KCDC put up a proposal for a fourth route, the other three were voted on by local residents and the sandhills option proved to be the most popular. But it didn’t have majority support and various groups continued lobbying for the WLR.
KCDC shifts its ground
Meanwhile the KCDC decided on a pragmatic approach and joined the government in the expressway tent. Their new view was that an expressway is going to happen, so let’s get on board and make it work for the district. The WLR lobby groups felt betrayed and were not slow to let the Council know their feelings.
With the KCDC in step, the NZTA instituted a lengthy consultation process which included public forums, setting up an office in Coastlands and calling for submissions. Resource consents were needed to go ahead with the expressway, so there were opportunities for the opposition groups to make their case through the judicial system.
Going to a higher court
In April 2013 A Board of Inquiry gave its consent for the McKay’s – Peka Peka stretch of the road of national significance to Wellington to proceed. Both “Save Kapiti” and “Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti” (ASK) then appealed on points of law, but these entreaties were dismissed by the High Court last month.
Now “Save Kapiti” is seeking leave to take the case to the highest court in the land. According to spokesman Mark Harris This project is bad for Kapiti and bad for the country, and we are committed to opposing it.
The appeal to the Supreme Court, if allowed, would be broadly based on three premises
- strong public interest in the issue
- the validity of an existing consent for the WLR in the District Plan
- a high speed motorway through the district will not solve the traffic problems.
Viewpoints: time to move on?
The Supreme Court is well placed to consider whether Save Kapiti’s serious point of law has merit for appeal. Cr K Gurunathan
Mayor Jenny Rowan’s reaction to the earlier High Court dismissal of the Save Kapiti appeal may well be the majority view.
“Bring it on. It will bring a $500 million injection into this community. It has been a long conversation for the whole community – opponents and people who supported the road. The decision brings certainty. We need to get on with this road now, respectfully acknowledging those who had concerns and saw it through the process.”
Some would argue that with the rapid progress on the Otaihanga roundabout, the work has already begun.