A legal challenge to the lawfulness of two wharf extensions in the Waitemata Harbour by Ports of Auckland will be heard in June.
In the High Court at Auckland today, Justice Rebecca Ellis set a date of June 2 for a judicial review brought by Urban Auckland, a society set up to protect the city's built environment and waterfront.
The review challenges the lawfulness of the consents granted late last year by Auckland Council for the wharf extensions, about 100m into the harbour.
The case is set down for three days.
Julian Miles, QC, acting for Urban Auckland, sought an interim order to stop work on the extensions. Ports of Auckland, he said, had not given any undertaking to stop work on the wharf extensions under any circumstances.
"Every day that goes on the die is cast," he said.
Jim Farmer, QC, acting for the ports company, said it would be a waste of court resources having two cases - an interim injunction and the substantive case - so close together.
The case was of great importance to the parties and public, he said.
Alan Galbraith, QC, acting for the council, said his client wanted to have a definitive decision as soon as practical.
Justice Ellis - who said the "three most senior counsel in New Zealand are involved in this case" - pressed the three QCs to find an early date for the substantive case.
The senior counsel went away and reported back a time slot in early June to the judge.
Julie Stout of Urban Auckland said it was great that a date, sooner rather than later, had been found for the case.
"We are really disappointed the ports are continuing construction and the council aren't supporting our interim relief injunction," she said.
Ms Stout said it would be a sign of good faith for the port to halt construction, saying "they take an aggressive approach and that is what we have been fighting all along".
"The whole thing is underhand and devious, the way they proceed with these sorts of consents by putting them into small discreet packages and citing the effects being minor and not looking at the accumulative effect of expanding 100m, or a tenth of the harbour, at that point," Ms Stout said.
The port company has started enabling works on the extensions, ordered materials and let a contract. Main works have not started.
Ports spokesman Matt Ball said the court decision was a good result for the company.
He said the judge rejected Urban Auckland's application for an interim orders hearing and granted Ports of Auckland's request to hear the substantive case at the earliest opportunity.
"This will give certainty to both parties and avoid long drawn out legal wrangling.
"This decision also means Ports of Auckland is free to continue with construction," Mr Ball said.