I blogged two days ago on how ECan management were even interfering with their own independent Hearing Commissioners. A 2007 final judgement makes these points:
Wayne Russell is a hydrogeologist from Auckland, Dr Greg Ryder is an aquatic ecologist from Dunedin. Philip Milne who chaired the hearing is a environmental law partner with Simpson Grierson in Wellington. We were appointed by Canterbury Regional Council (“the Council”) to hear and decide 69 applications by 59 applicants.
These were the three independent Commissioners. It is fair to say they are experts – which is why they were appointed. Their job is to decide on applications according to the law, and best science. The Greens claim to be pro-science, but are very selective in their use of it I note.
The hearing was somewhat unusual. In essence it largely became a two way debate between the Council officers and the applicants’ experts and counsel. Notwithstanding that there were no submissions in opposition to many of the applications and little evidence from submitters, the officers remained adamant, that with some very minor exceptions we should not grant any of the applications.
This says a lot. Often hearings are between applicants and objectors. Here, the Council management argued against, despite there being no objections from any person or group.
Some of the officers have at times adopted more of an advocacy role than a neutral advisory role. …
We appreciate that there is a need for precaution in relation to this resource, however we were left with the impression at times, that the case presented by officers was overly focussed on persuading us to decline consent. This was reflected in the officers’ strong opposition to us granting any but a few exceptional applications. There was also considerable resistance to the proposed adaptive management approach. We felt that the officers had rather more confidence in their view of how the resource operates that the science warrants.
That last sentence I suspects says a lot about why there were so many problems, and why they were seen as dysfunctional by all the territorial local authorities.