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Crown Law Advice Vindicates Auckland Resolutions

Published: Thu 23 Dec 2004 08:26 AM
Crown Law Advice Vindicates Auckland Resolutions
The opinion released from the Crown Law Office on 22 December 2004, that there is no legal requirement on the Auckland City Council to tag the LIM reports of properties that may have been used for past horticultural purposes, supports and strengthens the four Cornerstone Resolutions put to Auckland City Council on 16 December 2004, by community organisations: Residents Action Movement (RAM), Panmure Community Action Group, and Soil Contamination Action Movement (SCAM).
While we are pleased that ACC will remove comments connected to unproven soil contamination from 25 LIM reports as requested in Resolution 1, we further expect Council to:
a) Apologise to property owners across Auckland City who were affected by the soil contamination scare. In particular, we want Council to apologise in writing to the 25 property owners who had their LIM's tagged with possible soil contamination remarks
b) Ensure LIM guidelines stipulate that factual information is recorded and that LIMs do not include comments about soil contamination that are based on opinion or mere "possibility" of contamination.
c) Collaborate with Government to test identified and new soil contamination hotspots as well as remove problem soils, and to meet all costs without seeking contributing funds from property owners.
d) Act immediately to test for contaminated soils and obtain results well before the 6-12 month timeframe suggested by Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard.
e) Take immediate steps to publicly remove the stigma of supposed and unproven contaminated soil from those suburbs which have been unfairly tainted by this issue by Council's actions.
The Four Cornerstone Resolutions put to ACC by community groups on 16.12.04
Resolution 1
That Auckland City Council does not tag LIM reports with suggestions of possible soil contamination without proof that such contamination exists.
The claim that Council is obliged by law to annotate the LIM is contentious and may well be wrong. Council should not proceed on this basis until a definitive decision by the Crown Law Office is released.
Resolution 2
That both Auckland City Council and Government pay for soil testing and remediation where required.
Auckland City property owners are not at fault with regard to suspected chemical contamination on past horticultural soils as previous Governments legislated to ensure such practice. Therefore, it is Council¹s and Government¹s duty to fund testing and remediation of past horticultural sites.
Resolution 3
Using Council research of potential contamination hotspots the Council must act to test identified sites immediately without cost to the property owner.
We call upon Auckland City Council to adopt the Contaminated Land Management Guidelines issued in 2003. Hamilton City has already established a model for the process.
Resolution 4
Auckland City Council must undertake the work in partnership with, and accept guidance from relevant Ministries, in particular,
• The Ministry for the Environment
• The Ministry of Health
We advise that RAM's request for information under the Official Information Act to Government has not been complied with within the statutory timeframe. Unfortunately, neither have similar requests to Auckland City Council. We draw Council's attention to its responsibilities under the Act. (Council recently forwarded information under the OIA but Governement has not).
Summary
Council's mishandling of this serious issue has resulted in loss of public confidence. Council needs to take immediate steps to consult with affected property owners and representative groups and in conjunction with the public, to bring the matter to a swift and just conclusion.

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