The award of $35,000 costs to Federated Farmers from Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council), signals the end of an 11 year fight for the right to farm in Banks Peninsula.
Federated Farmers Banks Peninsula Branch chairperson, Pam Richardson, said she is pleased at the $35,000 costs award, but remains frustrated at Environment Canterbury’s refusal to admit its wrong-doing that has cost ratepayers and farmers considerably more than the costs awarded.
"Environment Canterbury has been the author of its own defeat. It is incomprehensible that it continues to point the finger at other parties," Mrs Richardson said.
"I am, frankly, astounded Sir Kerry Burke expressed disappointment at his council facing an awards cost of this magnitude. It was his council who repudiated negotiations undertaken in good faith.
"Farmers worked with all parties to arrive at a compromise of fair rules and landscape designations. Environment Canterbury’s conduct flew totally in the face of mediations ordered by the Environment Court.
"This case should never have gone to court. It has been a waste of farmers’ time and a needless waste of ratepayer's money.
"Having seen Environment Canterbury’s media release, there is little in the way of contrition. This is very concerning as the Environment Court has sent a clear and unambiguous message; the council betrayed mediation process and risked undermining the public’s faith in the process.
“If the council wishes to start rebuilding relationships as they say, they should start by admitting they got it wrong. Instead they are trying to justify the unjustifiable. Environment Canterbury thought they were beyond the law and this costs award is a timely reminder they are not.
"Federated Farmers fought on a matter of principle for what is right. This costs award sends a message to councils that working in partnership is the best way to achieve sustainable solutions that all parties can live with," Mrs Richardson concluded.