Otaki Trees Case

2. chris turverFormer Regional Council says KCDC looking ‘silly;’wasting ratepayers’ money pursuing elderly couple

By Alan Tristram

 The former Regional Councillor Chris Turver says the Kapiti Coast District Council are looking more and more ‘silly ‘as they prosecute the elderly Otaki couple who trimmed and cut down some native trees.

Mr Turver, a former resource consent hearing commissioner with the Regional Council, also condemns the KCDC for wasting ratepayers’ money on the prosecution and projected court case.

He says: “An elderly Otaki couple (Diana and Peter Standen) showed exasperation and dignity in equal parts when they found themselves caught up in the aftermath of a tree cutting controversy which should never have been allowed to get so out-of-hand.

‘Bureaucratic obduracy’

“Thanks to the bureaucratic obduracy of Kapiti Council, ratepayers will now have to carry the staff costs and court costs. 

“Then there are the costs of the Police who were asked to turn out in case the staff needed protection from a couple in their 70s.”

Mr Turver also points out that Peter and Diane Standen will be left  to bear their own costs.

“You know when something is seriously wrong when Environment Minister Amy Adams describes the Council’s RMA rules as ridiculous and says many RMA rules around the country have slipped into nonsense territory,” he says.

“Respected former district councillor Barry Mansell bluntly says the Council is making a fool of itself.”

Mr Turver does concede that ‘in general terms, the environmental culture of the KCDC has to be applauded because somebody has to take responsibility for protecting the best of the natural resources we still have left.’

But he says the KCDC’s inability to know when it’s gone too far is becoming legendary around New Zealand, with the media ‘gleefully jumping on each insensitive gaffe.’

Mr Turver adds: “All it would take now is for the KCDC to say it went too far, stop any prosecutions, apologise to Peter and Diane Standen, and the heat would go out of the case.

“It won’t because it still hasn’t learned to say it was wrong.

“So instead the media can now look forward to the prospect of covering what is bound to be a heart-wrenching court case and the Council will look even more silly as its spends more ratepayer money to defend its actions on the basis of a principle which most think misguided.”

No support for KCDC

Mr Turver says:” It’s interesting that nobody has been reported as coming out publicly to support the Council – it seems not even the greenest of greens – and that should tell the Council something.

“As a former resource consent hearing commissioner with Greater Wellington Regional Council, I was taught that every reasonable effort should be made under the RMA to negotiate a win-win agreement on even the most complex issues, with prosecution the last resort.

That’s probably why you don’t hear many cases of the regional council, which deals with scores of RMA applications from around the region each year, being caught up in such unproductive and costly dog fights.

“It will be interesting to see which culture survives when Kapiti is absorbed into a regional super council!”