18 November 2010
The Department of Corrections welcomed the Minister for Environment’s decision today that an independent Board of Inquiry would hear its application for the proposed new men’s prison at Wiri.
“We have been committed to engaging with the public since we began this process in April this year. A Board of Inquiry is a robust, fair and transparent process. The public get to have their say through a public submissions and hearing process,” says Department of Corrections Project Director, Jeremy Lightfoot.
The Department’s application was lodged with the Environmental Protection Agency on 1 November as planned.
“Because this project is of national significance we requested that it be heard by a Board of Inquiry. Once the application went to the EPA the process was out of our hands. It’s fair to say we are pleased that the EPA recommended to the Minister for Environment that he direct our application to a Board of Inquiry. We want this to be an open process, that allows interested parties to provide input,” says Mr Lightfoot.
Now that the application has been referred to the Board, the EPA will publicly notify the application and call for submissions. The notification is expected to be in local newspapers this coming Saturday. Submissions can be made over the next 20 working days.
The Department has offered to support an independent ‘friends of the submitter’ service. This service is run by the EPA – but will be funded by the Department. The ‘friend’ will be an independent resource management planner who will be available to provide advice on submissions and the Board of Inquiry process.
A public hearing is likely to take place in early/mid 2011 following the public submissions process. At the hearing the Department and all submitters will be invited to address the Board.
More information on the process and how the ‘friend of submitter’ process will work are available on the EPA’s website (www.epa.govt.nz or 0800 22 55 372)
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