Berry Simons celebrates another digital billboard victory

Fri Oct. 20th 2023

Berry Simons' Digital Billboard Team has another victory over Waka Kotahi - this time in Rotorua.

Simon Berry and Olivia Gunn worked with a multi-disciplinary witness team to obtain resource consent for Globox to establish the first digital billboard consented on a State Highway in Rotorua. This is a back-to-back pair of digital billboards on State Highway 5 (Fairy Springs Road).

In what we have noted previously as a worrying trend, the Rotorua Lakes Council decided, without obtaining expert traffic engineering advice, to notify the Globox application to Waka Kotahi on traffic safety grounds.

Predictably, Waka Kotahi lodged a submission raising traffic safety concerns, chanting the misguided mantra that digital billboards attract attention and must therefore be a traffic safety hazard because of driver distraction. This proposition has been soundly defeated following the two hearings Waka Kotahi attended and presented expert evidence. 

Attempts were made to address Waka Kotahi’s traffic safety issues, including the scheduling of an independently chaired pre-hearing conference. This was cancelled at the last minute when Waka Kotahi declined to attend.

To add insult to injury, Waka Kotahi then indicated that it did not want to attend the hearing either – having been the only submitter that gave rise to the need for a hearing in the first place. This is not the first time that this has happened.

“After heavy defeats in Wellington and Timaru, I am surprised that Waka Kotahi has not taken stock of the fact that their fundamental position, that digital billboards are inherently a traffic hazard, is not sustainable by reference to local and international research and the lack of any crashes in New Zealand that are attributable to them,” says Simon Berry. “I would have thought that the penny might have dropped by now and that Waka Kotahi might think again about spending taxpayer money on a lost cause.”

Globox director, Allan Nicholson, is very unhappy with the entire application process.

“The comprehensive and uncontradicted information we supplied made clear there were no traffic safety concerns and no need to notify Waka Kotahi at all. Globox has been put to huge expense for no good reason at all,” says Mr Nicholson.

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