Hear­ings called over SkyPath

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SIMON MAUDE

THE con­tentious $33 mil­lion SkyPath project has en­tered its next phase.

Be­fore a re­source con­sent rul­ing is made on the pedes­trian and cy­cle­way, sub­mit­ters will now get the chance to speak to four in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers.

More than 11,000 sub­mis­sions were made, mostly in sup­port of the pro­posed cross­ing but more than 450, in­clud­ing those op­pos­ing, re­quested speak­ing in per­son.

Auck­land Coun­cil says hear­ings dates have yet to be set.

Although SkyPath hear­ings chair­woman Karyn Sin­clair ac­knowl­edges many want to make in­di­vid­ual sub­mis­sions, she wants like­minded groups to make joint sub­mis­sions, stream­lin­ing the process.

Us­ing a sec­tion of the Re­source Man­age­ment Act, Sin­clair has di­rected ex­ist­ing group sub­mit­ters to ‘‘ present ev­i­dence and sub­mis­sions that cover within their sub­mis­sions the bulk of the com­mon is­sues raised by as many of the in­di­vid­ual sub­mit­ters’’.

Op­pos­ing groups sup­port the move.

North­cote Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Wayne Hale says speak­ing rights are an im­por­tant part of democ­racy.

‘‘Ev­ery­one has the right to talk in per­son, you can­not take that right away.’’

The as­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive hasn’t had a chance to de­cide whether it will team up with other groups to speak in op­po­si­tion to the SkyPath’s pro­posal.

‘‘At this time we would make sub­mis­sions as we put them in,’’ he says.

Hale also wants to speak to his in­di­vid­ual sub­mis­sion.

SkyPath project head Be­van Wood­ward and project sup­porter group Gen­er­a­tion Zero both sup­port the hear­ings move.

‘‘It makes very good sense to us, it will help with the flow of in­for­ma­tion, if it expedites the process, let’s do it,’’ Wood­ward says.

Gen­er­a­tion Zero’s Sud­hvir Singh says the panel’s de­ci­sion is a ‘‘sen­si­ble move’’.

‘‘Due to the over­whelm­ing num­ber of sub­mis­sions in sup­port those pre­sent­ing on our be­half will con­vey to the com­mis­sion­ers they rep­re­sent the 10,000 peo­ple who sub­mit­ted in favour of this es­sen­tial trans­port link,’’ Singh says.

Hav­ing public hear­ings means op­po­nents can’t ig­nore de­sign el­e­ments SkyPath has pro­posed lim­it­ing dis­rup­tion to sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hoods like North­cote Pt, Wood­ward says.

The New Zealand Trans­port Agency has sig­nalled its will­ing­ness to con­sider con­struc­tion of the Seapath which Wood­ward be­lieves will draw ‘‘more than half’’ of SkyPath’s traf­fic away from North­cote streets.

Auck­land and North­land re­gional direc­tor Ernst Zoll­ner says this year the NZTA will work through a ‘‘de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion’’ of a Seapath route with af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and stake­hold­ers.

Photo: SIMON MAUDE

Bridg­ing ar­gu­ments: SkyPath project head Be­van Wood­ward hopes the hear­ings will ex­pe­dite SkyPath de­ci­sions.

Cross­ing guard: SkyPath plans are on hold un­til af­ter hear­ings.

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