24 July, 2012
High Court decision won’t hinder recovery
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says today’s decision by his Honour Justice Chisholm to grant an application by Independent Fisheries Limited and other land owners inside the 50 decibel noise contour line around Christchurch Airport won’t hinder recovery because important elements of the Crown’s decision still stand.
Justice Chisholm accepted that the purpose of freeing up land for residential development, and even freeing up council staff by bringing an end to the Proposed Change 1 (PC1) appeals, were within the purposes of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
However he found the amendments to the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) and revocation of PC1 were not necessary to achieve the purpose of making land available for residential development. He found that if any amendments to the RPS were required, smaller amendments would have been sufficient.
But the amendments to the Christchurch City Council and Waimakariri District Plans remain unaffected, meaning the developments in Kaiapoi, Prestons Road and Halswell West made possible by the Minister’s decisions are able to continue under the District Plan provisions. The Minister maintains his motivations for the changes were sound and the actions necessary in the situation.
“Following the 22 February 2011 earthquake we were faced with a pressing need for land to be freed up for urban residential subdivision.
“The status of Proposed Change 1 was causing uncertainty for developers and councils, and as a result was impeding the development of land for residential purposes.
“Questions over the status of the 50 decibel noise contour line around Christchurch Airport were at the heart of much uncertainty.
“It is very important for the country’s economy that New Zealand has two international airports operating on a 24 hour a day seven day a week basis, one of which is Christchurch International Airport.
“Canterbury will grow strongly in the years ahead and we believe it is therefore important that the airport’s operations are protected,” Mr Brownlee said.
“Crucial to my decisions was freeing up land near Kaiapoi, where about quarter of the town had been significantly affected by the earthquakes.
“Much of Kaiapoi was already within the noise contour and I considered it important to free up land in the immediate vicinity to enable residential development to occur and accommodate those displaced in the township, and also others in the residential red zone around Christchurch.
“It is important to appreciate that this case did not concern the changes to the Waimakariri District Plan which allowed for residential development in and around Kaiapoi or the subdivisions provided for at Prestons and Halswell West under the Christchurch City Council’s District Plan.
“Those district plan changes continue to have effect so there is no adverse effect on residential development by this decision.”