Wellington Scoop

Going into reverse at the Basin

The decision rejecting the Basin flyover contained significant errors of law which could constrain progress, claimed the Transport Agency in its appeal. The High Court, however, ruled that there were no such errors. The Agency then reversed its stance.

When the Agency decided to appeal against the Board of Inquiry’s rejection of the flyover, it said the errors of law created uncertainty which would affect its future decisions:

Transport Agency acting Chief Executive Dave Brash today confirmed … the appeal addresses a number of significant points of law that need to be considered and clarified in order to provide direction for the future planning of infrastructure, both around the Basin and throughout New Zealand. We are appealing the Board’s decision to decline the Basin Bridge on a number of significant errors of law. … We are also concerned by the flow on effect of these errors, which create uncertainty in the law that could impact on the ability of the Transport Agency and other network and utility operators to deliver vital infrastructure. These uncertainties have the potential to create legal precedents that would constrain progress not just on roading projects, but on future public transport, pedestrian and cycling developments, and non-transport infrastructure.”

It was a statement that clearly reflected the Agency’s seven-year record of operating like a dictatorship, as it attempted to force the Basin flyover on Wellington.

The High Court, however, ruled that the Board’s rejection of the flyover contained no errors of law. The Transport Agency then changed its tune. Acting chief executive Jenny Chetwynd:

“The High Court’s decision provides useful clarification on a number of points of law for future infrastructure projects. This clarity will be valuable when we, and other infrastructure providers, are preparing for future projects.”

The errors of law claimed by the Agency had not been errors. What it said would be constraining it, would now instead be “valuable” for it. Faced with a second costly legal defeat, the Agency was forced to accept that its stance had to change.

Does this change extend to a new willingness to work with the community? After its dismal record of threatening the city council, it is now promising to work in partnership with it. Jenny Chetwynd again:

“We’re now looking to … work in partnership with Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and other local agencies to jointly identify, plan and deliver significant and integrated improvements across the Wellington transport system in the corridor between the Wellington Urban Motorway and Wellington International Airport for all transport users….We recognise there are some immediate transport issues to tackle, and together with our council partners, we’ll be looking to implement optimisation improvements in the short term, helping to keep people and goods moving through the city.”

Is this to be a new era of transport planning? All the participants are welcoming the promise. But who’s taking the lead? Celia? Andy? Iona? Is the city council moving to initiate new planning discussions with its new partner? When will the “optimisation improvements” be started?


  1. Trev, 6. September 2015, 15:04

    Something has to change with this Wellington NZTA dictatorship! They ran a public submission on the Petone to Grenada Road & their last minute crazy plans to bulldoze Takapu Valley needlessly. They got over 1400 submissions with 98% against doing this, but claimed in their report they had ‘general support’. This only came to light after independent analysis and OIA of submissions. They must be held to account. The only agency making errors is NZTA, and it’s fraudulent!

  2. Michael Gibson, 7. September 2015, 7:46

    What is interesting is the new approach adopted by the Mayor & Council towards assisting the New Zealand Transport Agency – & cutting down on “consultation”.
    They have done this by rushing through a resolution aimed at depriving Wellingtonians of their rights to object to building a four-lane highway over the Town Belt.
    Doing this in contravention of their own Standing Orders is reminiscent of the sort of compliance typified by Andy Foster’s suddenly providing the deciding vote which gave the Council’s blessing to the flyover.
    We need our MP, Grant Robertson, to look seriously at what the NZTA, a Government agency, is getting up to in Wellington!

  3. Ian Apperley, 7. September 2015, 9:20

    I agree Michael. What would also be good is councillors and mayor declaring where their allegiances lie and what they think the long-term solutions to be. Because right now we have no idea what they are thinking and I suspect, neither do they.

  4. Curtis Nixon, 7. September 2015, 10:03

    I wish we had a system that ensured that public servants who make significantly bad decisions are made redundant and are put out of their job. That would sort the men from the goats!

  5. Richard M, 7. September 2015, 16:59

    After looking at all the public submissions, NZTA stated there was overwhelming support for P2G. However, more than 80% of the about 1,330 actual submissions received were made on prepared forms put together by NZTA and by the Tawa and Takapu Valley residents. In line with the January 2014 scoping document presented to the public by the NZTA, all of these forms presumed P2G would proceed and no comment, positive or negative, was required, and indeed very little was actually made. NZTA saw that as ‘overwhelming support’.
    Submissions on the four options were in fact reduced to only Options C & D by the Scoping document. The results of those submissions were
    Option C 79 Yes votes, 1,008 No votes (75% No vote)
    Option D 108 Yes votes, 957 No votes (71.5% No vote)
    Fairly conclusive I would say, and NZTA has now put all the Options, A – D, back ‘in the melting pot’ though the public appetite for C & D is clearly not there. No decision expected until Christmas, so what is going on? I don’t think we have this planning system right yet.

  6. Don, 7. September 2015, 17:11

    How do do know when the NZTA is lying?
    Answer: They’re moving their lips.

    Don’t worry though. With this Government in power, they’ll just change the law to get through what they want. Bulldoze democracy along with communities to follow their sponsors cheque-book and out dated political dogma. Be nice to think you could trust your Government and its agencies – or am I only dreaming.

  7. MIke, 7. September 2015, 19:39

    Even the transport industry have been critical of a transport policy that only looks at road haulage. Mainfreight gave the government a serve, saying they need to look at other modes of transport – that’s why they have just built a distribution depot over the railway lines, and radius out locally on smaller trucks.

    We’re lucky in this country we can move freight around on the rails using clean energy. Future generations – with less oil and who make commitments to reduce CO2 – won’t thank us for degrading this option to a point where it’s not viable.

  8. syrahnose, 7. September 2015, 19:42

    Ah, remember the myth of peak oil and how we all were going to grind our way back to living under stone age conditions. And I guess I missed the electrification of rail between Auckland and Wellington somewhere? And what about all the other citizens who live far off that single track.

    I commonly pass through the US’s west coast cities and see more and more electric cars. Telsas are sold in shopping malls and supermarkets have dozens of electric hookup stations (paid for by the supermarkets themselves). NZ will catch up someday.

    But we need road infrastructure at least as good as what other developed countries have up to now to go further into the future. NZ’s roading and Wellington’s especially is barely beyond 3rd world levels.

  9. Merrill, 7. September 2015, 19:47

    I think that if the follow-on options to P2G ever came up before a Court, NZTA would crash, burn and die on day 1. Why?
    The scoping report had so many errors and faulty logic, it’s hard to catalogue them all. Faulty traffic predictions, failure to consider wider options (eg,SH58), questionable costings, and so on. The public were given only two options to submit on. At a public meeting just before the end of the submission period, the public were informed by a senior NZTA representative that there had always been a third option – do nothing. So the submission process was flawed. A clear bias for one option over the other in the statements and the tenor of documents. Presenting information based on a study that had not, at the time , even commenced. There is more, but I can’t make up my mind whether we are looking at overall incompetence or fraud. Now they’re holding off on an Option decision until Christmas when we’re all busy with other things. Yep, there’s a long way to go for them to get their standards and project planning sorted out.

  10. Buck B, 7. September 2015, 20:33

    Seems like they have learnt from their expensive Basin debacle as they now approach P2G. The Wellington City Council, GWRC, the Road Transport Committee and the public have all given a resounding NO to the P2G Option D, and a ‘wait and see’ for Option C. So what have NZTA done? Toys out of the cot, it’s all going back for review, all options are back on the table, we’ll let you know at Christmas time – silence. So, since all the options are back in, are we now back to January 2014? Can we, the public, make new submissions? Oh no, none of that! Apparently we’ve had our chance, even though we didn’t know what all the options were at that time. So now it’s all gone underground, no more messy discussions in public, no more exposes of faulty logic, and they’ll let us know the decision when they’re ready. We need someone with some grunt to get this organisation sorted out and reminded of who they work for. A Minister with some spine would be good…

  11. Ange, 7. September 2015, 22:41

    Surely heads should roll with this expensive mis-management of public funds, not only spending millions of dollars fighting the people whose taxes pay them, but also huge mistakes costing us millions. Some sense of responsibility wouldn’t go amiss. Minister of Transport stand up and sort your staff out….

  12. Frances, 7. September 2015, 23:00

    It’s a shame as I get older I realise a lot of people aren’t in it for the good of the people, the environment, or the future generations. it’s short term greed, power, self fulfilling horse crap. Whoever in NZTA Wellington needs to get off their high horse, stop wasting OUR money and get on with the job with the local people for the local people.