The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
August 22, 2015

Fishing for King Salmon at the Basin Bridge

I took the morning off to sit down and read the High Court ruling on the Basin Bridge appeal. As you will have heard by now, the Judge ruled that the Board had not committed any errors in law, and so their decision stands – the Basin Bridge remains declined. It is therefore as dead as a very dead thing.

The background you will all be well aware of by now: NZTA promotes a flyover to cross near the Basin Reserve, asks for permission, and gets it denied. Appeals to the High Court, gets it denied again. Not much more to say really, is there?

Or is there?

Scoop gives several reports about the decision, such as :
High Court rejects Transport Agency’s bid to get approval for Basin flyover

Campaigners welcome second rejection of “ugly, unnecessary” flyover

Basin flyover decision “thorough … robust,” say architects

Mayor is “glad the ugly flyover won’t happen;” wants integrated planning

Iona Pannett tells city council to end its flyover fixation

MPs welcome flyover rejection: “time for NZTA to work with community”

John Milford wants “another solution” for Basin traffic

Transport Blog also had a good quick article by their wunderkind Matt, with some good commentary happening.

The DomPost also had a big spread – the full front page today:
Dead End , although, bizarrely, news appears to move so quickly on the Stuff account that it as disappeared completely from the Stuff page. Blink or you miss it – or was it deliberately buried? There is the usual rabid nutter crank callers on the Stuff site as usual, worth reprinting some of their idiocy in case you missed it:

enigma – so whats the solution mooted by those who are opposed to this project? let me guess, we all go back to horse and cart?

andrew.nicolson – Wellington is being strangled by bureaucracy and people with no vision! Have all of the people with common sense left town? Get on with the job!

WayneC – Excellent result, who needs new roads anyway. We could solve the transport system problems in wellington, and help the climate change, by making all taxis pedal powered rickshaws, much more environmentally friendly, and less dangerous to pedestrians

Soup – And there’s the last nail in the coffin that is Wellington! Oh well, it was a nice city while it lasted. Let the stagnation begin!

Brent Hutchison – This was the solution to the worst congestion point in the entire city.
The ultra green vegan hippies demanding we all ride bicycles will likely be the first to complain about the excess of exhaust fumes building up as the traffic congestion just gets worse and worse.
The whole tunnel project was the preparation for this flyover, so we have a half finished solution thanks to hippies.

What is more important, and more longer lasting than a Stuff article, is that the legal framework in New Zealand has just seen a quite important case, which is bound to be cited again and again in NZ case law. As odd as it sounds, the Basin Bridge enquiry appeal was, to a certain extent, about King Salmon. As far as the appeal went, it was all about the law. NZTA said that the Board of Inquiry had seriously goofed up on many points of law – what is really the interesting part of all this, is that the Judge went through NZTA’s claims carefully and dismissed every single one of these. Presumably, faces will be red and apoplectic in some quarters.

Post-script from the Ruling:

The relevance of King Salmon
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Environmental Defence Society Inc v The New Zealand King Salmon Co Ltd was released on 17 April 2014 part way through the hearing before the Board. King Salmon involved an application for a change to the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan under s 66 of the RMA. It did not concern s 171. The relevance of King Salmon to the present appeal arises from the Court’s discussion of Part 228 and the decision-making process known as the “overall judgment” approach.
NZTA’s submissions stated that King Salmon has significantly modified the approach to decision-making under the RMA and in particular the meaning of “subject to Part 2”. The respondents rejoined that the ratio of King Salmon was confined to plan changes and that the decision was of little moment in relation to designations.”

Zanzibar
23 - 08 - 15

Or you could argue that although NZTA was fishing for compliments (and salmon) at the Basin Bridge, the big fish (ie the judge) wasn’t biting. My reading of this is that while the King Salmon case may have been thought to have some relevance, and hence forevermore tilted the playing field (to horribly mangle a metaphor), the judge has more or less said that the Commissioners were right not to rise to the bait and take the worm…

Levi
23 - 08 - 15

From what I recall, the judge commented that there were definite signs of King Salmon lurking in the shallows, in the section 171 of the RMA, with regard to section 104.