The Dunedin City Council has offered a public apology and
a $50,000 payout to settle a long-running dispute with the
owners of a quarry over mislaid information.
Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose extended the olive
branch to Geoff and Tracey Scurr, of Geoff Scurr Contracting,
It came after Mrs Scurr tried repeatedly, but without
success, to obtain information held by the council relating
to the resource consent for the company's Kilmog Quarry,
north of Dunedin, between 2008 and 2011.
The information emerged later from deep within the council's
paper filing system, but only after the couple had been
forced to stop a sale process and seek a new resource
consent, and were warned of the potential risk of a
They had also accrued more than $200,000 in costs as a result
of the time-consuming battle, which threatened to leave the
business ''cleaned out'', Mrs Scurr told the Otago Daily
Times last year.
Yesterday, Mrs Scurr said she was satisfied to receive the
''full and final'' settlement, although it would go only
partway towards recouping the couple's costs.
''We are satisfied with the outcome. It would be better if it
had never happened . . . It was very, very expensive and
stressful,'' she said.
Dr Bidrose yesterday acknowledged mistakes made by council
staff in mislaying the ''crucial'' information and she was
''This is a mistake that should not happen to a ratepayer of
this city,'' Dr Bidrose told the ODT.
The missing information related to an earlier resource
consent, issued in 1998 to the quarry's previous owner, which
council staff said showed the quarry was limited to
extracting no more than 5000cu m of rock a year.
A copy of the consent was found, but did not mention the
5000cu m limit, and Mrs Scurr was repeatedly told no record
of any other information could be found.
In its absence, the company had continued to extract up to
15,000cu m in some years from the site, until the information
suggesting the much lower limit finally emerged from inside
the council, staff said.
The couple then sought a new consent in early 2012, to ensure
they were operating legally and to future-proof the business.
They sought to extract between 15,000cu m and 45,000cu m a
year, but the council's hearings committee eventually granted
consent with 24 conditions, including a 30,000cu m limit, in
That prompted the couple to appeal to the Environment Court,
leading to further negotiations and a deal allowing up to 50%
of the unused rock extraction quota to be carried over from
one year to the next.
Yesterday, Dr Bidrose acknowledged the missing information
relating to the quarry's original consent had been
''crucial'' to the process that followed.
A council staff member had ''departed from our normal filing
standards'' by filing paper information relating to the
quarry's consent under a resource consent number, rather than
a street address, she said.
That was because the quarry was spread over more than one
property, and the staff member had been unsure which address
to file it under, she said.
However, it meant the information was left ''in a place
no-one else thought to go look for it'', and other council
staff checking the paper files under the street address drew
a blank for years, she said.
''This wasn't deliberate [or] malicious. This was having an
old system with lots of paper files, and filing it
The council had a large quantity of old paper files,
including those dating back to before amalgamation, but was
now devoting more resources to converting them into digital
form, she said.
''This will take some time - years - but we're starting with
our high-risk areas and trying to make sure this won't happen
again,'' she said.