Kapiti Coast Councillor K Gurunathan (Guru) has warned the District Council its so-called independent panel on coastal hazard lines could be legally flawed.
And, he says, the postential lack of integrity could lead to further huge costs for the Council.
The independent science panel was set up by the KCDC because of the uproar over new Land Information Memos (LIMs) for coastal properties, which followed a report by Dr Roger Shand.
Cr Gurunathan says: “I have asked KCDC chief executive, Pat Dougherty, to provide legal advice to Councillors on whether the integrity of the independent science panel
reviewing the science underpinning the controversial coastal hazard lines matter has been breached by a potential conflict of interest.
The panel is scheduled to table it’s report with council this on March 21.
Guru says that, unless such legal advice clearly states there has been no conflict of interest, council cannot accept the report as it has the potential to trigger a judicial review and inflict additional costs on ratepayers.
“Councillors were informed late last week that the chair of the independent panel, James Carley, had co-authored a research paper with Dr Shand the expert used by KCDC to establish the coastal hazard lines,” the Councillor says.
“Councillors were told that staff had known about this collaboration in October 2013 , a mmonth before the hearing, but had failed to inform submitters and Councillors.”
Compromise agreed in 2013
In April last year four Councillors, who had moved a motion to withdraw the coastal hazard lines, agreed to a compromise by establishing an independent panel to review the veracity of the science behind the hazard lines.
But Cr Gurunathan says: “A key precondition was that those appointed to the panel have to be independent of Dr Shand. Councillors now have new information that
this has been breached .
“This is a serious matter for council and unless Councillors have clear legal advice that there has been no conflict of interest and no predetermination or bias, Councillors cannot put ourselves in a position that would trigger a judicial review and cost ratepayers.