In December 2009 TCC called for submissions. The draft stated that the Network Utilities Section Chapter 10 would not cover Amateur Radio Aerials and that the relevant residential Zones should cover them. Aerials were omitted in the Zone rules, and so would be restricted to the standard zone rules and limited to 9m, if the rules were not amended. Based on earlier submissions to other Councils, Tauranga Emergency Communication Group (Inc) (TECG) Branch 88 wrote a 53-page submission justifying a proposed set of rules to be included in the rewrite. NZART through the Local Authority Liaison Officer supported TECG and submitted a complementary submission.
Forty-eight further submissions were made supporting the initial submission. The City Council Hearings Committee (March 2011) on the recommendation of the City Planner rejected the submissions.
TECG in conjunction with NZART then appealed to the Environment Court. Court registration fees total $511.25. An email appeal was sent to all Tauranga amateurs requesting donations. TECG received $740 in donations. Subsequent printing costs, telephone calls, courier charges and postage absorbed the rest.
The Environment Court directed that the Council and the appellants attend mediation under a Court appointed mediator. All that was discussed in mediation was confidential and cannot be discuss outside of the parties. The original submission was crafted to request a 20m mast surmounted with a beam array, but with supplementary clauses to protect aerials that might be installed below the building envelope. The Council did not give an inch during two 3-hour mediation sessions (September 2011 & March 2012), nor did the TECG/NZART team. The mediator then referred the proceeding back to the Court.
TCC then placed the matter in the hands of their lawyers, a nation-wide legal firm. The supplementary clauses meeting TECG/NZART concerns were accepted by the Council as agreed amendments, for inclusion in the City plan. They were:
(a) A dish antenna (up to 5m diameter) mounted on a 4m high pedestal providing it is within the building envelope at all times.
(b) Up to six poles 115mm diameter 9m high anywhere on the property supporting wire aerials.
(c) A low support structure and aerials not to be higher than the building envelope except the 45º overshadowing plane does not apply.
(d) No aerial or guy wire to overhang any boundary.
The Building envelope is a vertical plane 1.5m from any boundary except the roadside boundary, (which is a vertical plane setback 3m (in Residential zone) or 10m (Rural residential zone)) to meet a 45º sloping plane from the boundary starting 2.7m above the ground to meet a plane parallel to the ground 9m above the ground.
In addition, the lawyers accepted a new definition:
“amateur radio configuration”
The antennas, aerials (including rods, wires or tubes) and associated supporting structures which are owned and operated by licensed amateur radio operators.
This left the definition and size of aerials and the 20m mast over the 9m building envelope and beam array, for determination by the Court.
TECG and NZART independently produced their evidence-in-chief to submit to the Court. Because of the prior work down in the North Shore City case, submission to the Tauranga City and subsequently the Wellington City plan change there were a number of similarly worded paragraphs. The Court did not comment on that.
The Court session (14 & 15 May 2012) before Judge JA Smith and two commissioners lasted 8 hours. At the conclusion the judge dictated an interim oral decision in favour of the appellants.
The city lawyers had the responsibility to write up, by 13 June2012, the proposed amendments to the City plan for the judge to consider. TECG/NZART then had to comment on any point that we are not in agreement with by 11 July 2012. The Judge then studied both documents and made the final decision on 7 September 2012.
The basic details are as follows:
(a) A support structure and aerials higher than 11m but not exceeding 20m.
(b) A Beam Array with boom 13m long and the longest element not to exceed 14.9m.
(c) Vertical aerials must not breach 11m-height plane, if there is a clause (a) support structure present, else can be up to 20m.
Below are links to documents related to this matter:
2009 Proposed-Rules by TECG.pdf -43 kB PDF
2012 Interim Judgement PDF 2.4MB
2012 Final Judgement PDF 7.4MB