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Councillors hear opposition to NZTA plan for road through Takapu Valley

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Wellington.Scoop
The controversial Transport Agency plan to build a new road through the Takapu Valley faced overwhelming opposition from a full house at last night’s Wellington City Council meeting.

Councillors were asked to decide whether or not they supported the new road, which is hotly opposed by everyone who lives in the rural valley.

But no decision was reached. Instead, the debate was adjourned until next Tuesday.

Councillors heard speakers from the public speak strongly about why they oppose the roading plan.

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Ohariu MP Peter Dunne was applauded after making a stirring speech against the road. He said the Transport Agency was blackmailing councils to support unnecessary additions to the Petone-Grenada road (destroying Takapu Valley, or widening SH1 past Tawa) otherwise it might review funding. Yet these ‘crazy’ add-ons had no justification. He said no decision should be reached before both Transmission Gully and Petone to Grenada were fully operational in the mid 2020s and there had been an opportunity to properly assess the impact on traffic flows and behaviour.

He said the council should resist attempts to link funding for the Petone to Grenada road to acceptance of either the Takapu Valley or State Highway One options. Such blackmail was unacceptable behaviour from a government agency, and the WCC should not buy into it by designating either of the options.

Dr Stephen Mulholland was another speaker who opposed the road. He analysed errors in the Transport Agency’s plans. He said the road would sit on a fault line and would have to navigate between slip-prone hills on one side and numerous power pylons on the other.

Councillor Andy Foster, who has already written about his reasons for opposing the road, said there was poor analysis by the Transport Agency in the council report. Public submissions were better informed.

Councillors Pannett and Ritchie also opposed the road, and said councillors must listen to the community.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown moved an amendment to make it clear that the council was opposed to a road through Takapu Valley. Instead, she suggested designating the widening of SH1. But the amendment was not supported because councilors felt they were being forced by the Transport Agency to decide on one or the other, when both have bad impacts. As Peter Dunne had said, better simpler plans exist with low impacts.

So the subject will be discussed again next week, with a growing realisation by councillors that opposition to the plan could be heading towards a confrontation similar to the public outcry against the Basin Reserve flyover, another Transport Agency proposal that was hotly opposed by a local community. As an indication of this, “legal defense fund” pamphlets were placed on councillors’ desks before the debate began.

Read also:
Peter Dunne: time to dump NZTA board and senior management?