The key architect of the Resource Management Act, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has slammed Horizons' handling of intensive agriculture consenting as bordering on misfeasance.

The former Prime Minister made the comments in an article for NZ Local Government Magazine on the handling of environmental regulation by local government, using the recent Environment Court hearing involving Horizons as an example.

The council has been issuing consents based on a decision by councillors which was contrary to both the RMA and the council's own plan.

The court decision raised a number of other shortcomings in Horizons' processing of consents.

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"The illegality of the council's decision-making is quite stunning," Sir Geoffrey wrote.

"So complete was the council's forensic defeat, even though Fonterra and Federated Farmers fought hard to defend it, that questions must be asked as to how such a parlous state of affairs could come to pass in an organ of New Zealand local government."

Sir Geoffrey believed the consents already issued under One Plan needed to be reviewed.

"While I can think of no example where a case brought under the tort of misfeasance in public office has succeeded in New Zealand, on this evidence we must be approaching that point now."