30 Jul 2013

Council taken to court over septic tanks

5:37 am on 30 July 2013

Christchurch City Council is being accused of putting wastewater tanks on people's front lawns without consulting with them properly beforehand.

The council is part-way through installing a low pressure septic tank system on 6000 properties that have a high risk of liquefaction following recent damaging earthquakes in the city.

It used an order in council under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act to push the work through and didn't believe it needed to get permission from residents. Normally, it would have to consult with them before installing tanks on private property.

Resident Andrew Bailey is seeking an injunction to stop the work on the basis the council failed to get the necessary permission and that he hadn't been consulted properly.

His lawyer Richard Maze said on Monday the council used the Local Government Act that allows private land to be used for public infrastructure, but still needed homeowners' permission to install electric pumps which power the tanks.

Mr Maze says the council then decided to go ahead and start installing the tanks regardless, even though it knew there would be opposition from homeowners.

He said the council then tried to coerce residents into accepting the tanks by giving them a take-it-or-leave-it option.

Some residents are worried that the tanks will emit odours and reduce the value of their homes.

The hearing finished on Monday with the judge reserving his decision.