The whole Basin “Bridge” (flyover) Board of Inquiry process has been rendered dangerously close to farce by the nine-month timetable imposed on the Board process by the Government. However, the latest move by the Kerry Prendergast-chaired Environmental Protection Authority, which administers the Board, has plumbed new depths in its apparent contempt for submitters on the project.
At 5.35pm on Friday 17 January, the EPA sent submitters the Draft Hearing Schedule, a complex document that requires careful consideration – even making it legible is a challenge. Each submitter needs to check the time(s) that they are meant to appear and respond to the EPA if any changes are needed.
And how long have submitters been given to respond? One working day. The EPA has imposed a deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 21 January, and Monday 20 January is a public holiday in Wellington – so it’s Tuesday or bust, especially if you’re away from Wellington for the weekend.
Is this fair or reasonable? Absolutely not. Whether this is a deliberate attempt by the EPA to make it impossible for submitters to appear before the Board, or whether it is merely the product of incompetence, we will leave for the reader to decide. But such absurd and unrealistic deadlines raise serious questions about any notion of this Board of Inquiry conducting a fair, unbiased and objective hearing process.