Environment Waikato has granted a consent to upgrade an access track on the Coromandel – but has censured the applicant’s actions in starting the work before a consent was given.
Tapu Creek Farm applied for a consent to upgrade and construct an access track and construct and use a culvert in a tributary of the Tapu River near the Tapu Coroglen Road. Three submitters objected to the proposal.
The applicant intended to construct the access to a proposed building site, which involved crossing a small tributary in which he proposed to place a culvert. A consent was required because of the steepness of the land and volume of material to be removed.
In January Environment Waikato staff visited the site in response to a complaint about the works, finding the culvert and most of the tracking work was already completed. Spoil from the earthworks had encroached on an adjacent property.
The applicant told the hearing he considered it debatable whether a consent was required for the culvert as it was not completely new. He had found the remains of a track and considered the works a reinstatement.
One submitter expressed concern about lack of consultation with iwi, and that works had been undertaken without appropriate consents. The applicant rejected the statement that he had failed to follow consultation procedures.
In making its decision the Hearing Committee said it deplored the actions of the applicant in undertaking works before consent had been assessed and granted as a retrospective consent disadvantaged all parties. Reversing the works done would require substantial and additional disturbance to the site.
It was disappointed that despite the time interval between the application and notification, all parties were not able to discuss and reach agreement about the works. A recent extensive archaeological survey had been undertaken of the wider subdivision area as well as protection for two specific midden sites, and large parts of the property had been covenanted.
It found that the effects of the proposal were likely to be no more than minor and the application could be granted subject to conditions.