First it was homes. Now it is kauri trees in the path of a $400 million water treatment plant in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges.

Only weeks after the close knit community of Oratia stopped plans by Watercare to bulldoze up to 18 homes for a new treatment plant, Titirangi residents are stepping up the fight for the new site in their neighbourhood.

They are seeking to protect native flora and fauna, including giant kauri trees, rare species of ferns and snails and endangered kahikatea wetlands.

The current designation does not authorise any further water treatment plants and we're confident the courts will agree

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The Titirangi Protection Group is planning legal action against Watercare's plans for the new plant on the site of the existing Huia water treatment plant at Titirangi.

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They believe the 57ha site at the intersection of Woodlands Park Rd and Manuka Rd is only designated for the operation of the existing water treatment plant and any future works requires a new designation.

"The current designation does not authorise any further water treatment plants and we're confident the courts will agree," said Doug Cowan, legal counsel for the group.

Their concerns go beyond the legality of the designation to the impact on the ecological value of the site. The land is subject to the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act and identified as being of significant ecological value in the Auckland Council Unitary Plan.

A spokesman for Watercare said it was aware of pending legal action by the group but it was "no concern to us".

The new plant is planned to be more efficient and boost water treatment by up to 15 per cent. With a new pipeline to North Harbour it will help meet the growth needs of northwest Auckland.