“We’re obviously very disappointed”, says Southland Fish & Game chairman Graeme Watson.
“The Environment Court process was robust, with the Judge and Commissioners undertaking a very detailed analysis of the evidence over four weeks of hearings”.
“Southland District Council (SDC) didn’t only have one or two aspects of their consents declined, they were comprehensively refused in every aspect that was in dispute. They were even criticised for not assessing the proposal against their own plans”.
“SDC consultants have misrepresented the Mararoa option throughout, which flows right through their economic analysis too.
The Judge recognised that, but unfortunately the community keeps hearing figures from SDC consultants who only analysed what was a worst-case scenario for the Mararoa route.
They’re comparing apples with onions”.
“We did all we could to avoid Environment Court and even offered to contribute funding towards the alternative Mararoa option. To now be dragged to the High Court is frustrating, knowing it’s costing time and money that would be better spent developing the alternative.”
“We’ve tried to be moderate in our comments thus far, but it’s time Southlanders recognised what a debacle this whole project has been, from Deloitte’s identifying a lack of expertise in the scoping and design of the trail options, to massive budget blow outs, to an unnecessary Environment Court case and now to the High Court.”
“The Environment Court judgement reviewed all the SDC’s evidence and concluded that the Mararoa offers viable alternatives, without any significant difference in projected economic benefit to Southland.
It’s a pity that SDC didn’t respect this Judge, accept the robust decision and move on.
Instead they seem hell-bent on the Oreti, irrespective of the economic consequences to ratepayers and Southland as a whole”.