The Environment Court has once again upheld the right of property owners to build a home on their own land. Berridge Spencer, well know on the island as an excellent steward of the environment on his property owned through Man O'War Station Ltd, has been granted permission to build a home on his land at Cactus Bay as reported in the Herald yesterday.
A Company linked to one of New Zealand's wealthiest families has won the right to build a house at Waiheke Island's deserted Cactus Bay, despite initially being banned.
This is a sock in the eye for former Chairman of the legacy Auckland Regional Council (now Auckland Councillor for Waitemata and the Hauraki Gulf) Mike Lee, who is well known for his vocal opposition to coastal development. And to those locals (including Waiheke Local Board members) who still don’t understand that the Resource Management Act (RMA) permits a landowner to make an application for development and, if initially declined, to then to negotiate their way to what the Council (and sometimes the Environment Court) thinks is a reasonable compromise.
The decision is a great victory for the legitimate RMA process, common sense, natural justice, the economy of the island and the environment. There have been too many vendettas on Waiheke waged by so-called ‘environmentalists’ against landowners wanting to develop buildings on their own property, in violation of their freedoms under common law and planning rules.
Egged on by Waiheke’s local protest papers, ill-advised, inexperienced lay people fight applicants over what is often their legal right to develop. Held to ransom, costs for the landowners mount while their planning illiterate opponents dust off the placards and stage protests. Too often these vexatious litigants have had the ability to use public money to fight their private vendettas. This has to stop. The same Waiheke names keep cropping up in these ultimately wasteful fights - Mike Lee, the Walden family, Forest and Bird, The Waiheke Island Planning Group, Ross Gillespie, Christopher Wragge, The Hauraki Gulf Conservation Society etc.
If it’s not the Spencer family then it’s the Holyoakes, or Auckland Transport and the Waiheke quarry, or any other ‘cause’ that protest politicians like Lee and Walden thrive on.
No wonder the Government, watching this constant abuse of the RMA process, decided to make much needed changes to the Act to stop the bleeding of millions of dollars of landowners’, ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ dollars for nothing more than personal aggrandisement and fights, often born of envy and nimbyism.