A High Court judge has overturned an Environment Court decision to disallow an appeal objecting to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's consent for a new wastewater treatment plant in Napier.
Napier's Wayne Church had lodged a submission to the Napier City Council's application for resource consent to the regional council to build and operate a Bio Trickling Filter wastewater plant at Awatoto.
Every person who submitted to the consent application was to receive notice saying if it was approved. Submitters then had 15 working days to appeal to the Environment Court.
But when the regional council granted consent, Mr Church said he was not informed until near the end of the appeal period. He filed an appeal objecting to the consent about December last year but the Environment Court ruled in February it was submitted "out of time" and could not be considered.
Mr Church appealed the decision to the High Court in August, where Justice Mary Peters overturned the Environment Court ruling. Her decision directed the Environment Court to rehear the matter of whether Mr Church's appeal was lodged within 15 working days of notice of the consent decision.
The councils said a decision was sent to Mr Church on November 4. It would have arrived in the mail by November 7 and the closing date for an appeal was November 28.
Mr Church said he did not receive the notice until November 25. He then lodged his appeal, about December 12, but the councils said it was put in too late.
Justice Peters' review of the evidence found the councils could not have sent the letter on November 4 because the consent decision was dated November 7.
"At the very least, notice would have to have been posted on or after November 7," she said.
Mr Church had sworn an affidavit with a letter from New Zealand Post to him, stating there had been reports of mail being tampered with and stolen from Napier addresses between November 2011 and January 2012.
Since the High Court decision, Mr Church said he had been in mediation meetings with the councils but no progress had been made. He said he had spent up to $100,000 on court costs so far and was undecided whether he wanted to continue with his appeal in the Environment Court.
The Napier city and Hawke's Bay regional councils said they would not comment until the court action was concluded.