The NZTA have announced they are going to challenge the decision of the Board Of Inquiry (BOI) to decline the consent for the Basin Flyover.

The Basin Reserve flyover battle is heading to court.

The New Zealand Transport Agency will today reveal its intention to fight the decision by a board of inquiry to decline resource consent for the controversial highway project.

The agency is worried that, if the flyover ruling is allowed to stand, it will set a legal precedent that could jeopardise all major infrastructure projects planned throughout the country.

Appeal documents were filed with the High Court at Wellington late last night.

Appeals against board of inquiry decisions can be made only on points of law, and Transport Agency acting chief executive Dave Brash said the board’s 504-page final decision contained “concerning” errors. Those errors had left NZTA, other agencies and councils uncertain how they should deliver vital infrastructure, he said.

“These uncertainties have the potential to create legal precedents that would constrain progress, not just on roading projects but on future … non-transport infrastructure.”

In my opinion the decision made by the BOI clearly showed they understood the implications of the project and the decision they were making. I think someone the NZTA forget that there’s not a clause in the RMA that states all road projects get rubber stamped.

The board of inquiry’s four commissioners voted 3-1 to reject the $90 million project in July, saying NZTA had failed to properly consider alternative ideas and solve the damage the flyover would do to the surrounding heritage area.

The three who voted against the project felt it was inappropriate to consider the benefits of the flyover within the wider context of a proposed second Mt Victoria tunnel and bus rapid transit network, because those projects had not been fully developed.

Brash said: “Disregarding future projects simply because they are not yet consented creates a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario.

It sure was a chicken and egg situation and the NZTA were the eggs. The BOI rightly said each project has to stand on its own and this project didn’t as many of the benefits claimed for it were actually attributed to other projects.

It could take to to another year for the hour court to make a decision and if that goes the NZTAs way for the BOI to reconsider the out application. That’s time the NZTA could be getting on with a better solution.

Basin Bridge Image 2

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30 comments

  1. I suspect there will be a new clause added to the RMA under the matters of National Importance, something like “benefits to economy of large infrastructure projects”. I’m sure will be scrutinizing decision to see how they can change RMA to ensure this never happens again.

    1. No suspicion needed – the proposed provision is “the efficient provision of infrastructure”. in addition, the “protection” of historic heritage is being replaced with “consider the importance and value”. regardless, these wont apply to any decisions made by the High court, no matter when they come into force.

    2. Nah, they won’t, because that could be own goal – if they add something like that, then the BoI could actually TEST the economic benefits. Right now, they don’t even have that option to consider. The Basin decision was mainly based on other matters, as I read it, not economics.

  2. To appeal a decision because it might set a precedent is tacitly admitting that you don’t have a substantive argument in favour. It’s saying “we want to play by our rules.”

  3. Why even bother having a BOI at all when LTNZ will just challenge them anyway? This is just a ludicrous waste of tax payer money that would better spent developing a tunnelled solution that everybody would agree to.

  4. I see the NZTA engaging in mono-model group think. The challenge that other concerned parties may have about plans that are generated within that environment is to NZTA similar as any child use to getting their own way has when they are told no.

    My question is will they keep trying until they get what they are after (like a spoit child), or will they investigate other alternatives (like a responsible party), only time will tell.

    1. They will continue at least till 2017 now. You don’t think it was by chance that this comes shortly after the election. You think they’d have appealed under a Labour / Greens government? But people don’t care enough on transport to vote based on it on a national level, so here we are with another 3 years of this s***.

      1. They’ll only continue unless they are held to account. With the woeful showing of the opposition parties at the election, I doubt they’ll be as useful in providing the interrogation of the government we’d all like, especially on the transport issues that seem less exciting on the surface but have more profound effects to the economy in general.

  5. So NZTA have plenty of money to line lawyers’ pockets for legal action but nothing for extending BRT to Albany.

    Wow I hate to see what a fiscally irresponsible government would spend its money on.

    1. They spend it on their (roading) business mates. Not sure though, why they are so focussed on a flyover at the Basin Reserve as a tunnel is way more attractive to any construction company…just look at the Waterview project pork barrel!

      1. They need the flyover to build the tunnel they want. So they can build the motorway through Kilbirnie they want. So they can get the motorway to the airport they want.

        It’s utterly perverse and makes a mockery of the city of Wellington, but there you have it.

  6. It’s time to abolish the NZTA.

    (Before anyone starts… yes, there are good people who work for the NZTA. They deserve a transport ministry that respects their intelligence.)

    1. it’s time to admit Labour’s changes to funding and implementation (i.e. merging LTNZ and Transit to form the NZTA) were a mistake. Mainly because 1) National have exploited the power to a far greater degree than anyone envisaged and 2) NZTA have been unable to keep the highway addicts’ snouts out of the trough.

  7. Off topic but only slightly, it is ridiculous that current plans are for Transmission Gully to be finished by 2020, when the far-more-valuable City Rail Link will not even be started until 2020 (or later?) under this wrong-headed government.

    1. I can see a future transport blog post now comparing daily traffic volumes on Transmission Gully versus daily ridership on the CRL :).

      .s

      1. It appears from OIA papers that the initial intention was to toll it (no figure given) however I also have papers saying that to toll it would put so many people off using the road that it would be completely pointless to build. If people don’t value it enough to pay the toll then it clearly shouldn’t be built.

          1. That’s not how the NZTAs PPPs are working. Fresh from the failures in Australia and other places the private companies don’t want the risk associated with vehicle demand. As such the PPP is based on the availability of the road. Basically they get paid providing the road is open and to a set quality level. The NZTA assumes all the demand risk. In fact the private companies are probably better off the less vehicles that use it as it means less maintenance.

            The whole thing is flat out corporate welfare as we could so the same thing with govt lending door cheaper but is done this way to keep the loan off the govts books.

            Oh and if there’s an earthquake or other major damage taxpayers have to pay to fix the road.

          2. This will be New Zealand’s single most expensive project, once the PPP costs have ballooned it out to $3 billion. Yet I don’t see the Taxpayers Union complaining (mostly because they are shills for the National Party).

  8. Build an underground railway line to the airport – that makes sense and most of Hataitai would still be there after the project was finished. Train would be faster Beehive to Airport. You could connect to the Palmerston North Airport on those too frequent days when Wellington is too foggy or windy for aircraft operation. Avoid Transmission Gully too…….

    1. Yours is a rare voice of sanity Lloyd.

      A revamped transport strategy for Wellington based around extending the existing rail system along the “corridor of national significance”, i.e. to Newtown, Kilbirnie and Airport, is the obvious alternative to pursue.

      Unfortunately it seems to be totally un-obvious to most New Zealanders born prior to about 1980. The generation with a world-view through the windscreen of a car only.

      And so our transport decision-makers squander $ millions, trying futilely to find a fairy-tale roading solution which will “fix” all the problems caused by our excessive dependence on cars.

      One only has to look at Wellington’s excellent rail system and then at our sorry failure to make more of it in many decades, to realise that we are being led by those who are blind.

  9. They should just go through the Basin Reserve and at grade and build some parks. How hard is it to find somewhere else to play cricket? All you need is an oval and around 100 seats for the people who can put up with watching it.

  10. What happened to the lite rail suggestion? As mentioned have the rail loop from the Airport to the suburbs (multi track plus mono allowing unit to switch between mono and multi, using electro magnetic drive system, system lends itself to steep grades).
    2 lines to suburbs (links to main loop) express and sidings. using mono rail (ground and overhead), isolator bases (earthquakes) plus fibre optics to monitor track movement and heat displacement.
    Cost, like any project this will be over ‘X’ years as each suburb is added, the loop may go as far as Palmerston North, crossing over hills etc (electromagnetic systems, you only power up segments of the track for which the unit runs on, hovers on).
    Possibly emergency services like the ambulance could use it for patient transport due to the speed of which these units can move at (no traffic issues if express line is used).
    Less waiting around for a train or having to catch a bus from the Wellington station out to the suburbs or hospital/airport, smaller bus services may be need in some suburbs where the rail system will not.

    My 5 cents worth.

    Now the flaming from the sceptics who have the answers.

  11. In europe the realisation has set in that “who sows roads, will harvest traffic” and reducing vehicle infrastructure (by reducing amount of lanes for example) while investing in alternatives, can actually reduce congestion and boost nearby businessess. NZ councils and traffic engineers are running an odd 30 years behind europe, and are making the same mistakes when increasing infrastructure was THE thing to do. Instead they should be looking at what they are doing NOW and learn from them.

    Make it harder for cars to get into town, remove car parks while improve cycle infrastructure and the cyclists will come, improve public transport and its prices, and people will flock to it. For some reason using the car is just ingrained in everyones mind. Everybody seems to associate cycling with the people in lycra that imagine themselves part of the Tour the France. Being from the Netherlands I never saw people in lycra, instead everybody did their grocery shopping on the bike, went to work and school on bikes, in their normal clothes. Improve the infrastructure, remove the mandatory helmet and cycling becomes a whole lot more appealing.

    Give the city back to pedestrians (and cyclists) instead of making it more and more easy for cars.

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