Orewa Beach seawall consent costs approach $1m

The cost of obtaining resource consent to build a seawall on the northern part of Orewa Beach is rapidly approaching $1 million.

In March, Hibiscus Matters revealed that getting Auckland Council’s proposed seawall, from Kohu Street to Marine View, to resource consent stage was $660,000.

Independent commissioners turned the proposal down, saying that building a wall would generate adverse effects on coastal processes, public access and natural character.

Council then appealed what was effectively its own decision, which has led to a drawn out process, which began in December and has not yet reached formal mediation stage in the Environment Court.
Figures released to Hibiscus Matters last week under the Official Information Act show that the cost of appealing the decision so far comes to almost $200,000.

The total spent on the appeal, in the six months between March and September, was $194,439. Not surprisingly, the bulk of this was legal fees, which came to $127,154.

The pre-hearing legal costs were $143,549, meaning that legal services for the project to date have cost ratepayers $270,703.

In fact, that figure is likely to be considerably higher. The Ombudsman advised the paper that DLA Piper is providing legal support to Council on the Orewa seawall appeal, but cannot reveal how much those services were costing.

“DLA have a fixed price contract to provide legal support on all regulatory matters, not just the Orewa seawall appeal, and it is not possible to provide costs for this specific matter,” the Ombudsman says.
The remaining costs incurred since the appeal was lodged are for separate expert advice to Council, as both applicant and decision-maker. These total $67,285. Most of this has gone to experts called upon by Council in its role as applicant ($59,476).

The appeal costs to date of $194,439, together with the $660,000 spent on the consent application, mean the regulatory process for the seawall has already cost $854,439.

The Environment Court is expected to reconvene in November to review the parties’ progress and set down a timetable for the hearing.

The former Rodney District Council also hoped to build a seawall on the same part of Orewa Beach. That was also declined resource consent. The former Council spent around $450,000 on the project.


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