Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has lost his appeal against a High Court ruling in July that he acted unlawfully when he used his wide-ranging powers under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act in a land zoning decision last year.

In a ruling released today, the Court of Appeal's Justice Forrest Miller, Justice Raynor Asher and Justice Douglas White said while they did not agree with all of his reasoning, they agreed with Justice Lester Chisholm's High Court ruling earlier this year.

Justice Chisholm's ruling overturned Mr Brownlee's decision, which ruled out housing development on land near Christchurch Airport owned by Independent Fisheries.

Mr Brownlee's original decision allowed development of land elsewhere and had the effect of terminating several appeals to the Environment Court.


The Court of Appeal judges said they accepted submissions for Mr Brownlee and the local authorities which also appealed the High Court ruling, that Mr Brownlee's decisions were designed to achieve planning certainty for greater Christchurch and may be in accordance with the purposes of the quake recovery Act.

However their decision was based on the absence of evidence that Mr Brownlee "reasonably considered the alternatives``to use of the special powers under the Act.

Those alternatives may have allowed for more community participation, they said.