The following statement was released by the Glenside Progressive Association to the news media on 9 July 2009. It provides an initial response by the Association to the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council findings regarding the Westchester Drive link road hearing.
Glenside Progressive Association - Statement for Press Release
The Commissioners have released their Hearing Decisions and accompanying reports on a road intended to link upper Churton Park to Middleton Road and hence to the motorway at the Glenside Interchange. There is already an indirect link to the motorway via Halswater Drive and Middleton Road and three other routes out of Churton Park.
There were two reports.
The report dealing with resource consents for environmental effects granted several consents covering items such as stream diversion, earthworks, batters and sediment control with conditions attached. It is unusual for regional councils to decline consents for Discretionary projects such as roading so the result was what we expected. However, Greater Wellington is clearly very, very concerned about sediment and erosion and have included over 300 consent conditions in their report, over 100 of which attempt to control this aspect alone.
It is doubtful in our view that any roadbuilding contractor or other permit holder would have the ability or resources to implement and actively monitor this number of measures successfully. Furthermore, the provisions don't allow for significant events which are quite likely to occur during construction such as a major flood. Water treatment using chemicals to control sediment during heavy rain would be impossible to administer effectively. The result will be the destruction of native fish habitat and pollution of the Porirua Stream and Harbour with even more sediment than already exists. Following an initial reading, we didn't find any post construction conditions such as the retention of sediment ponds or maintenance of swales (soak pits) to capture sediment and road runoff.
The second report deals with all other aspects of the road such as impacts on the community during construction, heritage, amenity values, road safety and efficient use of Wellington City Council resources. However, they only looked at the effects of slightly altering the road design, not on the impact the road would have in totality. Their approach was based on the Designation being put in place and Deemed Operative in 1992 following community notification and consultation in 1990. The Designation was to apply for 15 years from its operative date which means it must have lapsed in 2007. If so, any hearing held after 2007 has to consider ALL the effects of the road from scratch.
However, Wellington City Council argued that the Designation was made operative all over again in 2000 without further consultation when their District Plan was made operative, so all the Commissioners needed to do was to look at whether the altered proposal is worse or better than the original 1990 proposal. This meant that our most compelling arguments against building the road were ignored.
Wellington ratepayers and other members of the community need to be very concerned about this. They are going to be asked to cough up $8.5 million during a recession for building this road with development contributions covering only 41% of this after a long time lag. The hearing process assumes that nothing has changed since 1990, either local residents are the same now as they were then or that they were able to speak on our behalf 19 years ago on whether or not the road is going to be needed, its costs, whether the benefits are worth the costs, whether the road fits in with today's transport strategy, our environmental concerns today compared to then and whether it will work at all now that the motorway is often jammed during peak traffic. This is precisely why the RMA allows only 15 years for a roading designation. The fact is local residents were just as concerned about the proposed road in 1990 as we are today but neither their voices nor ours have so far been listened to.