A group advocating for better coastal environment ordered to pay costs of $35,000 has been stung with an even larger bill after losing a legal battle over a beachfront reserve next to an Opua boatyard.

Late last year, the Supreme Court ruled that easements used by Doug's Opua Boatyard owner Doug Schmuck, granted by the Far North District Council, were valid, reversing an earlier decision in the Court of Appeal and allowing Schmuck to use part of the reserve for his boat repair business.

The Supreme Court ordered the Opua Coastal Preservation Society to pay Schmuck $20,000 and the district council $15,000.

The society challenged in the High Court the council's decision in 2014 to grant permission to carry out commercial boatyard activities on the reserve and to consent to easements over that reserve. The court quashed the permission but upheld consenting of the easements.


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The society successfully appealed the High Court judgment to the Court of Appeal but it was overturned by the Supreme Court, which then directed the High Court to determine costs.

The council sought costs of $29,990 and disbursements of $110 while Schmuck asked for $30,796 in costs and disbursements.

The society said as it was partially successful in the proceedings, costs should lie where they fell, and the proceeding involved a matter of public interest - whether commercial activities should be allowed on an esplanade reserve.

The council said it and Schmuck were the overall successful parties and Justice Mark Woolford agreed, ordering it pay Schmuck $20,145 and $17,954 to the council.