Hearings called over SkyPath
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.
Bridging arguments: SkyPath project head Bevan Woodward hopes the hearings will expedite SkyPath decisions.
Crossing guard: SkyPath plans are on hold until after hearings.