Press Release – Environmental Protection Authority
Anyone wanting to have their say on the proposed Basin Bridge project is being offered a helping hand from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA is holding a public information evening to help people understand how they can get involved in the process that will decide whether the project will go ahead.
Sarah Gardner, the EPA’s Applications and Assessment General Manager, says the information evening is a great opportunity for people to find out more about the process and how they can get their opinions heard.
“The Board of Inquiry, chosen by the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams to decide on this proposal, wants to hear what people think,” she says.
“Public involvement in the process will assist the Board in making its decision.”
The Minister for the Environment directed the New Zealand Transport Agency’s proposal to an independent Board of Inquiry after deciding it was of national significance.
Mrs Gardner says the easiest way for people to make their views known is to complete a submission using the online form on the EPA’s website.
“Your submission can include your opinions on the whole proposal, or just the parts that are important to you.”
As well as the information evening, the EPA is providing a ‘Friend of Submitter’ to offer free advice to potential submitters.
“Mark St. Clair will be available to walk people through the process, check that their submissions have been completed correctly and help them understand what to expect once they have made a submission,” Mrs Gardner says.
Mark will be holding drop-in sessions and will also be available via phone, email and in writing throughout the submission period.
Not-for-profit groups who make a submission on the proposal are able to apply for financial assistance from the Ministry for the Environment’s Environmental Legal Assistance Fund.
Up to $40,000 is available to pay for legal counsel and expert witnesses. The fund is not available to individuals.
For more information about the proposal, the information evening and the Friend of Submitter, go to the EPA’s website at www.epa.govt.nz/Resource-management/Basin_Bridge/Pages/Basin_Bridge.aspx
Date: Tuesday 20 August 2013
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
Venue: Greek Community Centre, Level 3, 5 Hania Street, Mt Victoria, Wellington
Friend of Submitter
Mark St. Clair of Hill Young Cooper Ltd.
Drop in times and venues are available on the EPA’s website. Mark can be contacted via:
• Phone on 04 473 5310 or 021 271 0815
• Email at email@example.com
• Or post to Mark St. Clair, Hill Young Cooper Ltd, PO Box 8092, Wellington 6143
Environmental Legal Assistance Fund
Not-for-profit groups can apply to the ELA once they have made a submission on the proposal. More information about the fund is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website at www.mfe.govt.nz/withyou/funding/ela.html.
The EPA provides administrative support to the Board of Inquiry including issuing the public notice, administering submissions and arranging the hearing. It does make a recommendation to the Minister whether a proposal is of national significance and whether it should be considered by a board of inquiry, but is not involved in decision making.
The information evening is to explain the EPA’s role, the role of the Board and the inquiry process, and how people can have their say on the proposal.
The Board of Inquiry
The Board is made up of four members – Retired Environment and District Court Judge Whiting (Chair), who has chaired three previous boards of inquiry, along with two experienced hearing commissioners and an expert in the social impact of major urban development projects.
The board of inquiry process
Boards of inquiry are quasi-judicial independent decision-making bodies, appointed by the Minister for the Environment to consider proposals of national significance. They must be chaired by a current, former or retired Environment Judge or retired High Court Judge and often include Environment Commissioners.
Boards of inquiry make their decisions entirely independently of the Minister and the EPA.
The Board is required to makes its decision within nine months from the day the proposal was publicly notified.
Anyone can appeal a decision made by a board of inquiry on nationally significant proposals to the High Court. Appeals can only be made on points of law. This is the same as decisions made in the Environment Court.
NZTA’s application was publicly notified on Saturday 10 August. The public have until 5pm Friday 6 September 2013 to make a submission on the application to the EPA.
After the public submission period, the Board will hold a public hearing when the applicant and submitters have the opportunity to present their submissions and evidence to the Board.