Hamilton City Council may be forced to remove 38 metres of pipe from the Hudson Street Gully in Hamilton.
The pipe was installed by the City Council as part of emergency work to protect the Hammond Park walkway bridge.
Under the Resource Management Act, the Council is entitled to carry out emergency works without resource consents. However, it must apply for consents afterwards to Environment Waikato (Waikato Regional Council) as well as to the Hamilton City Council itself for land use consents.
The work in June 2001 was undertaken in a Hillcrest gully and was opposed by local residents concerned about environmental damage.
In a decision released today, Environment Waikato's Hearing Committee members (Councillors Barry O'Connor, Evan Penny and Andra Neely) declined the City's request that the full 75 metres of pipe already installed be allowed to remain in the gully.
Either the top half of the pipe must be removed or the City Council must formally apply for a consent to allow it to stay, they said. A request from the Council to retain the concrete access culvert was also declined.
The Committee agreed that the lower half of the pipe should be allowed to stay.
Michael Hayman, an independent commissioner appointed by Hamilton City Council, disagreed with the three Waikato Regional Councillors. He believed the full 75 metres of pipe should be allowed to stay and granted a land use resource consent to the City Council.
The land use consent cannot be put into effect without the diversion consent from Environment Waikato.
Environment Waikato Group Manager Resource Use Harry Wilson said Environment Waikato members of the Hearing Committee accepted that removing the upper half of the pipe would cause some short-term damage.
"Prior to the work being done, the gully was in a very natural state and was highly valued by the community. Local residents have made it very clear that would rather put up with short-term effects if it means getting at least of part of the stream back," he said.
Hamilton City Council has 15 working days to appeal the decisions.