Dome Valley landfill protesters have engaged a lawyer who has beaten Waste Management before to lead their fight in the Environment Court.
Fight the Tip Tiaki Te Whenua incorporated has engaged Andrew Braggins, a legal expert who successfully opposed Waste Management’s application to extend its Redvale landfill.
Mr Braggins is a partner in the law firm Berry Simmons, which specialises in environmental law.
Campaigner Michelle Carmichael expects the appeal will be filed by July 2, ahead of the July 5 deadline.
Each of the 958 people and organisations who submitted on the notified consent will be given the opportunity to be a party to the proceedings.
Fight the Tip is also hosting a public meeting at the Wellsford Community Centre on Saturday, July 10, at 1pm, to provide concerned members of the public with information on how they can join the appeal.
Meanwhile, Te Rūnanga Ngāti Whātua chief executive Alan Riwaka has confirmed that his iwi will also lodge its own appeal with the court.
He says over the coming weeks, hui meetings will be held among hapu to provide the opportunity for them to join the appeal.
“The [independent commissioners’] decision failed to protect Te Mana o te Wai, which is an overriding requirement under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and it needs to be challenged,” Mr Riwaka says.
He says Ngati Whatua’s legal team will collaborate closely with Fight the Tip’s representatives to ensure a coherent challenge against Waste Management.
Ms Carmichael says it has given her a renewed sense of hope to have such heavyweights working to overturn the resource consent decision.
Fight the Tip has been fundraising for its appeal with a Givealittle page and is accepting donations into a bank account. Last week, it had raised over $9000 – enough to lodge the appeal by the deadline.
Ms Carmichael says Fight the Tip will also apply for legal assistance funding from the Ministry of Environment and hopes to receive the maximum grant of $50,000.
“It is warranted with the size of this application. Our costs will be in excess of that by the time all the experts have got involved,” she says.
The Ministry of Environment has an annual budget of $600,000 for grants of up to $50,000 to cover expenses for lawyers and experts in cases before the Environment Court.
A panel will consider whether to make a grant, and how much, based on whether a case is in the “environmental public interest”, including the interest of Maori.
If a grant is awarded, the Ministry enters into a “deed of funding” and will pay costs on behalf of the applicant, but does not provide money directly to the applicant. It cannot be used for the group’s sundries, costs incurred before the application or costs awarded against it.
The cost of filing an appeal to the Environment court is $600 and then $350 per half day that the court hears the case.
The court may order an unsuccessful party to pay costs “where it is just”, although an unsuccessful application does not automatically result in costs.
A hearing is usually scheduled within six months of the court accepting an appeal. The court “aspires” to make a decision within three months of the hearing.
A decision made in the Environment court can be appealed in the High court but only on points of law where a party questions the court’s interpretation of legislation. High court decisions can then also be appealed in the Court of Appeal.
While a consent is being appealed with the court, it cannot be acted on until the appeal is resolved.
12 3094 0274048 00 or at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/fightthetip.
What to expect in Environment Court
Auckland barrister Gill Chappell says the cost of an Environment Court case will depend on the number of experts engaged by all parties, the length of the hearing and the complexity of issues.
However, she says it will likely be many tens of thousands of dollars.
A hearing might typically take between one and two weeks, depending on the number of experts and the extent of the challenge to expert evidence.
Only parties who made submissions on the notified application may appeal to the Environment Court, but they may raise issues in their appeal beyond those raised in their submissions.
Ms Chappell explains that an Environment Court hearing is a “de novo hearing”, meaning that the court deals with the matter afresh, although it must relate to the commissioners’ decision.
Parties who did not make a submission may also “join” an appeal if they can show that they have interest that is “greater than the general public’s”. This could be an established interest group or a neighbour.
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