Stay granted for `No Drill' sign

The St Martin Island Community has won its quest for a ''stay'' to keep its ''No Drill'' sign up on Quarantine Island's jetty in Otago Harbour.

In January, the community was issued with an abatement notice by the Otago Regional Council instructing it to take down the sign, which had been in place since October last year.

The regional council considered the sign ''advertising'', which was not allowed under the jetty's coastal permit.

In protest, the community appealed the abatement notice to the Environment Court and asked for a ''stay'' to allow the sign to remain in the meantime.

Environment Court judge Jon Jackson has granted the ''stay'' pending the outcome of the appeal, which might be heard in Dunedin in May.

In his written decision, Judge Jackson said he agreed with the regional council the sign could not be considered a safety message as claimed by the community because it did not concern the jetty itself.

''On the evidence before me, I find that the only conceivable effect on the environment should the stay be granted would be of a visual nature, although I find that any effect will not be significantly adverse.''

The society did not appear to have ''weak'' grounds of appeal as argued by the council because it raised a valid point as to what was to be considered advertising for the purpose of the resource consent, Judge Jackson said.

The council's arguments as to why the sign should be considered advertising related to the appeal and were not considered as part of the stay application.

Community secretary Francine Vella said the community was happy with the decision but until it had received legal advice could not comment further.

Regional council environmental monitoring and operations director Jeff Donaldson said the council could not comment at this stage.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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