The Heretaunga Plains Land Protection Society has filed an appeal with the Environment Court to block further progressing of the regional sports park.
The appeal was submitted to the Environment Court on Tuesday and required notices have been posted to other submitters on the Hastings District plan change.
The Land Protection Society represents several dozen orchardists and other land-focused professionals concerned about non-horticultural development of fertile and finite Plains lands. Others are expected to join the appeal as Section 274 (RMA) interested parties.
The broad nature of the appeal — which includes challenges to this proposed use of prime horticultural land, inadequate protection of adjacent land, and the failure to appropriately consider other alternatives as required by Section 32 of the RMA — will have the effect of blocking further construction at the site.
At Monday’s public briefing on the RSP by Mayor Yule and Kelt Capital, the Mayor confirmed that an appeal that fundamentally challenged this use of the land would force postponement of construction of the grandstand envisioned in Phase 1 of the project. Arguably, other planning and fundraising efforts could proceed while the appeal is pending before the Environment Court, although any further expenditures might be wasted if the appeal is successful.
This is pure speculation, but the Court might propose mediation between the Hastings Council and appealing parties, which those appealing have the right to decline. Beyond that, formal hearings before the Environment Court would need to be scheduled, and these would not be likely to be calendared until next year.
From where BayBuzz sits, opponents of the sports park, who have varied and valid concerns about the project, and who have equal claim to representing the broad public interest in the matter, are fully justified in pursuing their rights as granted under the Resource Management Act.
Most likely, the Land Horticultural Society and supporting parties will be attacked as obstructionists subverting the public will. However, if the Society exercising its rights becomes “inconvenient” to the Hastings Council, so be it. It is the Council who has put the cart before the horse throughout the sports park process.