The Environment Court has ordered Queenstown tourism operator Totally Tourism to pay costs of $14,000 to two Arthurs Point parties.
The costs have been awarded to the Arthurs Point Protection Society and Barry Walters, who owns Nugget Point lodge at Arthurs Point.
The society, including Walters, had lodged an appeal against a resource consent which granted Totally Tourism permission for helicopter take-offs and landings at Arthurs Point.
The Environment Court had advised the parties that a hearing was likely to take place in October 2010.
Two months before that, however, Totally Tourism requested leave to withdraw the resource consent application at the heart of the proceedings.
As a result, the Arthurs Point Protection Society sought costs of $40,839 for preparing its evidence and submitted that Totally Tourism had not conducted its case in a responsible manner.
Totally Tourism, however, submitted that the circumstances didn’t justify an award of costs.
Environment Court judge Jon Jackson – in a decision released this weekend – says that after making deductions “the starting point for a costs award becomes $32,500”.
He then decided to award the society and Walters 40 per cent of that figure.
The judge states: “Totally Tourism Ltd’s case was poorly presented and comes close to an abuse of process since its decision to make a fresh resource consent application came late in the proceedings after a hearing date had been set and the society had commenced preparation for a hearing, incurring unnecessary legal and experts’ costs.”
Totally Tourism is co-owned by Destination Queenstown chairman Mark Quickfall.