Who Decides Waterview


Confirmation today that NZTA’s proposal for the Waterview Connection Project will go to an independent board of inquiry under the new national consenting process and the board’s  members have been named.

Today’s announcement means a decision on the application will be made within nine months of public notification, with appeal rights limited to points of law.

The Waterview Connection is the first roading project to use the new national consenting process. The ability to make a direct application to the Environment Protection Authority under the RMA was introduced by Government last year to streamline the decision-making process for such projects.

The inquiry will be chaired by an environment court judge, Judge Laurie Newhook.

Other board members are resource management consultant Ross Dunlop, civil engineer and Franklin District Councillor Susan Jackson, barrister Alan Dormer, and consulting engineer Gerry Te Kapa Coates.

Environment minister Nick Smith called it “the most appropriate way to decide the outcome of this nationally significant roading proposal adding “we want to prevent the sort of debacle that occurred with the Wellington Inner City Bypass where consents took more than 15 years.”

The Waterview project incorporates 54 resource consents. It involves 5 km of new state highway including tunnelling and surface roads to complete Auckland’s Western Ring Motorway and also involves reclamation of tidal saltmarsh and marine space involving the Hauraki Gulf and Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve.

Transport minister Steven Joyce said :”This is a project that’s been debated for decades – I’m pleased that everyone involved will soon have certainty about exactly what’s happening, when and how.”

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said the Ministerial decision marked a major milestone for New Zealand’s biggest and most complex roading project to date.

“We completed a significant amount of detailed investigation to ensure a thorough understanding of the effects, impacts and opportunities the project will have regionally and nationally. This is reflected in the large of volume of information presented in the application.”

Mr Dangerfield said the NZTA would be holding information evenings throughout the project area to update the public on the project.

“We want to continue to work closely with the community, local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure they are fully informed about the project as it is described in the application. All of our application information will be made available on our website early next week for anyone who wants to learn more about our designation and resource consent requirements.”

Local Green Party MP David Clendon said.”Pouring billions of dollars into a few kilometres of motorway and destroying a well-established community is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. It will lower property values and attract more cars into the city, condemning Auckland to more congestion and higher transport costs.

“It is ironic the the government is so keen to fast-track a project left over from the 1950s, but dragging their heels on the CBD rail loop.”

Information about how to make a submission can be found at here

In early July, the NZTA began calling for tenders to construct the SH20 section of the Waterview Connection. This followed a decision by the NZTA’s Board to approve funding to complete the Western Ring Route road of national significance project. Completing the route includes constructing the Waterview Connection, widening and raising the SH16 causeway and other capacity improvement works from St Lukes to Westgate.

The Transport Agency lodged its application with the Environmental Protection Authority in August using the new one-step consenting process for projects of national significance. It was reviewed by the EPA to determine and recommend whether it should be referred to a Board of Inquiry, the Environment Court, or to the local authorities for a hearing.

Board of Inquiry members:

Judge Laurie Newhook (chair) was admitted to the bar in 1972 and is experienced in resource management and local government law. He has been an Environment Court Judge since August 2001. As an Environment Court Judge he has presided over many resource management cases, including applications for sand mining, a prison, marine farms, designations, zoning, coastal subdivisions and urban development.

Ross Dunlop has extensive resource management and planning experience in both the public and private sectors in the following work areas: Environment Court hearings; decision-making and writing, Court assisted mediation, resource consents, assessments of environmental effects, feasibility investigations; public consultation, plan and policy statement preparation. Mr Dunlop was appointed as an Environment Court Commissioner in 2003.

Susan Jackson is accredited with a chair endorsement on the Making Good Decisions programme for hearing commissioners. She is a Franklin District Councillor and holds qualifications in civil engineering. Ms Jackson has been a lecturer in civil engineering at Manukau Polytechnic and has worked on numerous projects specialising in foundation drilling in the field of heavy construction.

Alan Dormer is a barrister who practices in public law and policy, environmental and local law and resource management law. Previously of Phillips Fox he is now a barrister in Auckland. Mr Dormer has advised government and the law commission, been retained by more than 30 local authorities since joining the independent bar, is an appointed hearings commissioner for eight local authorities, has taught the “Making Good Decisions” programme for hearing commissioners and has served three terms as President of the Resource Management Law Association.

Gerry Te Kapa Coates is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and has extensive experience in consulting engineering at all levels including expert witness services, strategic planning, sustainability and technical writing. He has experience as a chair and board member and is currently a Director for Ngai Tahu Holdings Ltd and Waihao Holdings Ltd and a Board member for Waihao Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu and Te Ana Whakairo Ltd. Mr Te Kapa Coates has more than 25 years of experience and has worked as an expert witness on 650 investigation cases.




  1. Commuter says:

    Engineers, one and all. There can be no doubt that this project - which in the myopic and evidently ill-informed view of its current principal flag waver, the Hon Steven Joyce, has ‘been debated for decades’ (sic) - will proceed, under the guise of impartiality, without impediment. Whoopdeedo!

  2. karl says:

    Commuter, not sure how 2 out of 5 being engineers makes them “engineers, one and all”. 40% is not 100%. And how does some of them being engineers make a difference? Do you think school teachers, farmers, doctors or environmentalists should have a certain minimum proportion in board of enquiries?

    I have little concern that the board will be relatively impartial. No, they are extremely unlikely to deny resource consent, but THAT IS NOT THEIR FUNCTION. Whether or not a project like this is to go ahead is a POLITICAL decision, not a legal one. These guys/gals have to decide whether the effects of this project are balanced out sufficiently by mitigation to fulfill the RMA criteria. If not, they could technically decline consent, but the more likely (and in my view, perfectly appropriate way) to approach such a case would be to include more stringent conditions of consent. Such as, for example, more significant bus priority.

    The court (for it is a court, never mind the “board” title) is not the appropriate place to overturn National/Joyces motorway frenzy - that is a political decision, and needs to be overturned politically. In the same way, the fast-tracking process itself is not their fault, because it was brought in by law. A country gets the government it votes for.


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