The Dom Post reports:
Transmission Gully is go, with opponents conceding defeat in their battle against the $930 million highway.
An independent board of inquiry yesterday granted consent for the new inland highway, which will shave 10 minutes off motorists’ peak-time journeys between Kapiti and Wellington.
It means the project, first mooted almost a century ago, has no more bureaucratic hurdles to cross with opponents confirming they have no plans to lodge appeals.
Only an appeal to the High Court could stop it now, though detractors say funding may yet fall through.
The funding will only fall through if there is a change of Government.
Rational Transport Society spokesman Kent Duston would not appeal because the only avenue was arguing whether due process had been followed.
The changes to the RMA last term have been crucial in this. Previously one could spend years and years tied up in hearings and appeals.
Sediment runoff into Pauatahanui Inlet was a key concern for opponents.
But Forest & Bird North Island conservation manager Mark Bellingham said planned remedial work would actually improve the environmental status of the catchment.
Good on Forest & Bird for saying this.
Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the decision was “great” news and would take pressure off the existing route, which carried 13,000 vehicles each day.
“The new Transmission Gully route – which has higher seismic resilience than the present route – will help to future-proof our region.
I note there is no comment from Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, as she is of course against Transmission Gully.
Wellington Civil Defence regional manager Bruce Pepperell said it would be an “escape route” in an emergency.
“It’s more than that. Anyone who lives down here understands that access is restricted at critical points. It doesn’t take a significant earthquake to do this, it just takes a simple storm and a slip to cut the area off.”
It is important strategically, not just to reduce travel times.