Board of Inquiry
What is a Board of Inquiry
The major event coming up in the future is the Board of Inquiry (BoI). We don’t have a definite date yet but it can’t happen until NZTA put their application for resource consents. Their last newsletter in January indicated that they planned to do this within the 1st quarter of 2012; subsequent communications with affected residents have indicated a new target date of mid-April but we believe that they still have substantial problems to solve.
When they do lodge their application with the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA has a maximum of 20 working days to recommend to the Minister whether the application should be considered by the Environment Court or whether it should fast-tracked with a Board of Inquiry. They may take fewer days, but they may not take more.
Steven Joyce indicated in 2009 that he considered it a foregone conclusion that it would go to a BoI, but it was never his decision to make –
Nick Smith Amy Adams is the Environment Minister who will make the call. There is no fixed timeframe for her to make that decision but, if she does decide on a BoI (as we fully expect), the decision will be formally notified, the Board appointed, and those for and against will have 20 working days from that point to prepare and put in their submissions.
It’s a reasonable guess that NZTA’s application will be the bulk of their submission, backed up by expert witnesses who will try to persuade the Board to approve the consents without change. We also are preparing material for our submissions but, because the submissions must refer to the application, we can’t finalise those ahead of time. It will be a busy few weeks!
Once the submissions have closed, the Board will announce when hearings will commence. Informed rumour expects this to be around June, but it is completely up to the Board. Hearings will take 2-4 weeks, depending on how many submitters want to be heard.
Our understanding is that the whole process is bound to take 9 months from the point of notification to the release of the decision, which would put the decision at around the end of the year/early 2013.