The Board of Inquiry into plans to build a four-lane expressway through the seaside communities on the Kapiti Coast ended yesterday, after a hearing which began three months earlier. It was the 27th day that the four-person, government-appointed board had met to hear submissions and counter-submissions for and against the major new road, which is designed to run from Mackays Crossing to PekaPeka.
The last word went to two representatives of the NZ Transport Agency, which wants to build the controversial expressway. Before them, closing submissions included the three groups that had been strongly opposing the proposal,
But the first of the opponents to make a closing submission was an individual, Dr Christopher Dearden, who spoke passionately against the four-lane proposal. Here’s some of what he said:
“The last three years have been … a David and Goliath struggle for us and many of the other people on the Kapiti Coast. We have sought to fight for our rights as part of the community and as individuals against the devious and well resourced enemy with all the power and knowledge on its side and an unwillingness to provide information that might help us.
“Indeed, not only have they not helped us but they have continually changed the plans during the Board of Inquiry and failed to inform us of those changes. We have opposed with one hand tied behind our backs and with very little resources to pay for the advice, both legal and hydrological, which we needed.
“Our objective has been to stop the implementation of a hugely wrong solution to a relatively minor traffic problem for which there has already been an agreed, locally supported and considerably cheaper answer – the Western Link Road. A road which would have added to the country’s assets rather than depleting them…
“We have been caught in a situation which is not of our making. It’s a situation where argument is difficult because the proposed expressway has no economic rationale, no practicality in traffic numbers or need, is not geographically or sustainably justified, and flouts all cultural sensibility. It relies on pure political whim and it’s difficult to mount rational arguments against that.
“We ask you to reject this application, return the Western Link Road to us, and recommend enhancement of the existing State Highway 1. If you do allow this white elephant expressway to go ahead, then … the rest of our lives will be a time of suffering noise, light and pollution damage as well as vibration. So will all the 1400 households which live within 200 metres of the expressway, and there will be enhanced pain from all those factors relentlessly during the next five years while this monster is built. As many have pointed out, all our properties will lose their value and be unsaleable. Ironically, we will make the biggest contribution to the cost of this road that destroys our lives.”
During the hearing there were more than 200 witnesses or submitters. The Environmental Protection Authority has published online transcripts from every day of the hearing. The final day’s transcript, with all the arguments in full, can be found here.