Historic Places Trust defends withdrawal from Project Hayes

Bruce Chapman
Bruce Chapman
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust is not a democratic organisation, chief executive Bruce Chapman told a group of Central Otago trust members in Alexandra last night.

"I don't think it can be [democratic]. Decisions have to be made by managers," he said.

Mr Chapman, of Wellington, told the 25 members he was concerned some felt betrayed by the trust's decision not to involve the NZHPT Central Otago branch committee in negotiations with Meridian Energy about the proposed Project Hayes wind farm.

He said the decision of the trust to withdraw its section 274 appeal against the wind farm two weeks before an Environment Court hearing was for management alone to make.

"The [Central Otago] branch committee knew of our negotiations with Meridian Energy, but it is not appropriate for branch committees to be involved in statutory matters.

"Branch committee members act as volunteers for the organisation, not in a governance or management role," Mr Chapman said.

His statement was made in response to questions from trust member and former Central Otago branch committee chairman Graye Shattky.

Mr Shattky asked why the trust had ignored its membership and acted in "such a covert and arbitrary manner".

"Many of us came to this meeting wondering whether there was a future of the trust at all. This community has some very real concerns about the recent activity of the trust, in particular with regard to Project Hayes," Mr Shattky said.

Mr Chapman said the trust did not have the time or the resources to involve every member of every branch committee in top-ranking decisions.

"We conducted negotiations [with Meridian Energy] in the normal way appeal negotiations are conducted because we were required to. We are spending taxpayers' money and we are accountable for the spending of that money, not branch committees," he said.

The trust agreed with Meridian Energy on a list of conditions it felt was appropriate, he said.

NZHPT had initial concerns about the impact Project Hayes would have on the Old Dunstan Rd, which traverses the proposed development's site on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago.

Mr Chapman said the trust did not want to go through the court appeal process with the risk of a judge or commissioner making decisions against the trust's preferred outcome.

"We chose the best strategy for the best outcome of this [Project Hayes]... I'm sure other people feel betrayed because we remedied the appeal, rather than drag it through the courts," he said.

Last night's meeting was intended to be closed to the public, but was opened to non-members at the last minute by newly-elected NZHPT Central Otago branch committee chairwoman Sharon Hinds.

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