The High Court has overturned an award of $48,000 to a developer who complained that the former Auckland Regional Council went out of its way to stop an airfield being revamped on Waiheke Island.

Waiheke Island Airpark Resort was awarded costs after it won a case in the Environment Court allowing it to build 26 visitor accommodation units and 11 single aircraft hangars, a terminal building and coffee shop.

In 2008, the ARC appealed against land use consent for the project being granted by the former Auckland City Council and then refused regional consents for water and soil use sought from it.

The developer filed an appeal on the regional consents. This was resolved without the need for a hearing after agreement with the ARC on a set of conditions that were to take effect if the Environment Court found against the ARC in the land use consents appeal.

The Environment Court found in favour of the developer in November 2009 and awarded costs for both appeals.

The ARC refused to accept the decision on the regional consent appeals portion of the award, $48,212, and appealed to the High Court.

Justice Ailsa Duffy ruled the Environment Court had erred. She set aside the award of $48,212 and referred the matter back to the Environment Court to rehear the council's cost application.

Auckland Council principal planner Veena Krishna said the High Court set guiding principles for the rehearing.

Hearings chairwoman Noelene Raffills said the decision was "a warning to us".

The total amount awarded to the developer was $97,133 covering both appeals. The ARC did not challenge the remainder of the costs award.