Elbury Holdings, which operates two farms west of the Awanui Straight, was highly critical of the process followed by the Far North District Council in planning the route by which water is to be piped from the Sweetwater aquifer to Kaitaia in its submission to the council hearing last month.
And it believes that the impasse can be resolved, without the need for a legal process.
The council has said that if the company does not grant access to its land it will use the Local Government Act Act 2002 to force its compliance.
In its submission, the company said the proposed route ran "right through the middle" of its property, affecting future production. There were reasonable alternative routes that would follow property boundaries or council drains, that would not have the same detrimental effect.
One of those routes was 2.1km shorter than the current proposal. No explanation had been given by the council as to why that route would take longer to implement.
Another alternative, suggested by Elbury, had been discounted without a site visit.
The proposed route would follow boundaries on every property except Elbury's and one other, Elbury's particular concern being the loss of flexibility over its use of productive land. The property was used for a variety of purposes, including dairy farming, cropping and a proposed avocado orchard, the route travelling through the middle of the latter.
If the pipeline had to be five metres from a shelter belt, that would leave a more than 10m strip of unusable land through the property.
It would also necessitate "outsiders" accessing the property to inspect, maintain or repair the pipe, creating a security risk and an unnecessary, significant adverse impact on the farm.
The company believed it was being disadvantaged by a flawed process dominated by the council's perceived need to proceed with construction on private land without delay, at the expense of seeking agreement in advance and open, transparent communication with land owners.
"The rush to proceed with this pipeline proposal is the result of failed FNDC policy and practice with respect to Sweetwater," it said.
"FNDC now expects Elbury to pay the price of its past failures, rather than routing the pipeline along property boundaries or roads.
"Agreement on the pipeline route and the necessary land and easement acquisition should have come first. Instead the pipeline route was proposed and plans drawn up before any communication with the affected land owners.
"The engineering and design plans were completed remotely. No engineers walked the route before submitting the plan, and have still not done so."
Elbury had had its first meeting with the council on May 20 last year, almost two months after pipeline plans were produced. Shortly after that the council invited expressions of interest in the pipe laying contract, based on a proposal that had not been agreed with the affected land owners.
At that time the council did not own the land where the bores were sited, and as of December 14 still not do so, the company added. Elbury understood that it had not signed access agreements with any of the other land owners.
Meanwhile there were three preferred routes for the pipeline, the first of which, following the property's western boundaries, would not involve any claim for compensation.
"It is not correct for the council to assert that there is no reasonable alternative to the crossing of private land. There are in fact three reasonable alternatives, and possibly more," the company said.
No one from the council had expressed a desire to walk the proposed routes, which involved the same land owners and which Elbury believed could cost less than the proposed route.
The council had clearly pre-determined the preferred route without prior consultation with affected land owners or any adequate assessment of the alternatives, as shown by the preparation of detailed plans before contact was made with land owners.
Hopes for an early hearing date
Elbury Holdings Ltd has lodged an appeal against last month's Far North District Council decision to access its land for a water supply pipeline from the Sweetwater aquifer to Kaitaia. The Kaitaia District Court will initially consider the appeal on February 26, when it will set a date for a hearing, Mayor John Carter saying he was confident that given the urgency of Kaitaia's water supply project, the court will set date as early as possible.
"We will do all we can to avoid any delays, and anticipate the court will likely reach a final decision on the appeal within three to four months," he said.
In the meantime the council would continue to progress other aspects of the water supply project. He did not believe the appeal would prevent it from delivering water to Kaitaia by next summer.
The council would also continue to seek agreement with Elbury Holdings so both parties could avoid a court case.