Environment and Planning Committee (28 November)

The Environment and Planning Committee was held on 28 November 2013.  Apologies from Cr Murfin, Cr Edgar, and myself were made.

The meeting agenda included a number of reports and consent applications, including: (1) Abbey Bar and Grill gambling venue consent application, (2) adoption of the provisional local alcohol policy, (3) adoption of the local approved psychoactive substances policy, (4) historic sheep dip sites and vessel maintenance contaminant areas report, (5) air quality report, (6) dairy farm effluent compliance report, (7) shorebirds update report, and (8) rural fire presentation and environment and planning staff activities report.

Gambling Venue Application

The committee granted the applicants request for 6 gambling machines.

The committee noted that the councils current gambling policy did not provide for a sinking lid on the number of gambling machines allowed to operate in the Tasman District. All it provided for was a cap on the total number of gambling machines. It is noted that Club Waimea (in its submissions) suggested to Council a sinking lid policy should be adopted.

A total of 220 gambling machines are permitted to operate within the Tasman District. At present, 186 gambling machines currently operate in the Tasman District (81 gaming machines operate in Richmond, with another 105 operating outside of Richmond).

Whether it should or should not provide a sinking lid policy does not appear to have been discussed according to the meeting minutes and was probably outside of the scope of the committee’s consideration of the application.

Alcohol Policy

The committee resolved to approve the provisional alcohol policy which is to apply from 18 December 2013 (subject to any appeal). If no appeal is lodged the provisional policy is deemed to be adopted from 18 January 2014 and come into force from 24 April 2014.

The committee heard submissions on the draft policy on 23 September 2013 and subsequently deliberated on those submissions on 26 September 2013. The outcome of those deliberations was the proposed policy.

Psychoactive Substances Policy

As alluded to in an earlier post, I had already attended the psychoactive substances hearings from which a recommendation was made to the Environment and Planning Committee. That recommendation was to adopt the policy. In my opinion, the policy is robust and according to the Ministry of Health is compliant with the law as drafted by the government. The new laws allow Councils to restrict the areas in which such substances can be sold. The policy does this as much as the law will allow. In summary, the policy provides:

  1. Premises licensed for the sale of approved psychoactive substances must be located within the central business zone, as defined in the Tasman Resource Management Plan, in Richmond, Motueka or Takaka.
  2. Premises licensed for the sale of approved psychoactive substances are not permitted within 100 metres of a kindergarten, early childhood centre, school, library, community centre, reserve, playground or place of worship.
  3. New licenses for the sale of approved psychoactive substances are not permitted from premises within 150 metres of an existing premises holding a licence (interim or full) to sell approved products.

A map of where licensed premises can be located is contained in the policy (see the Agenda, item 9.3).

Historic Sheep Dip Sites and Vessel Maintenance Contaminant Areas

In early 2013, council staff, with funding from the Ministry for the Environment, undertook an investigation of potential contaminated areas in regard to historic sheep dips (involving arsenic, zinc, and dieldrin) and vessel maintenance areas (involving anti-fouling agents copper and zinc). It was found that historic sheep dips did exceed, by up to 25 times, approved human health levels of arsenic and dieldrin. Similarly, larger slipways showed extremely huh levels of contamination.

Council staff will be reporting back on options for managing vessel slipways where contamination is present.

Air Quality

During 2013, Richmond recorded 9 breaches of the national environmental standard for smoke levels (PM10). This is lower than the 16 breaches in 2012. If the reduction in breaches continues, Richmond is on track to meet the national environment air quality standards by 2015, well before the 2020 deadline. Graphs illustrating the air quality of Richmond in comparison to Nelson can be found in the agenda (from pages 74 to 79).

Dairy Farm Effluent

Tasman District has 144 dairy farms with active effluent discharges in 2012-13. Of these, 139 farms operate under permitted activity rules. The remaining 5 farms are required to be inspected annually.

In 2012-13, 49 farms were inspected for compliance as a result of the previous years follow-up, new complaints, or farmer requests. This resulted in 88% (43 farms) full compliance, 8% (4 farms) non-compliance (a technical or minor adverse effect), and 4% (2 farms) significant non-compliance (an immediate adverse effect). One of the farms graded significantly non-compliant is a repeat offender and council will be initiating court proceedings. The other farm has since complied with abatement notices.

Shorebirds

The report showed that the Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Ruddy Turnstone have declining populations in the Tasman District (a reduction of 25% between 1983 to 2012). There are various reasons for the declining populations, including: reclamation of asian tidal flats, and the disturbance of high tide roosting areas by dogs, horses, people, and various crafts.

Environment and Planning Activities

The manager’s report covered a number of topics including: (1) national policy statement on freshwater, (2) Tb vector control programme update, (3) changes to development contributions arising from the new legislation, (4) proposed improvements to the usability of the Tasman resource management plan (TRMP), (5) building code standards for lifting a building’s floor level, (6) assessment of tsunami risk management, (7) delegation of power to appoint freedom camping enforcement officers, (8) rural fire network update, and (9) financial reporting of the departments monthly activities (attachment 5 of the agenda at page 133 to 139).

Interestingly, the council cannot compel new buildings to be constructed on piles (to mitigate flooding) although they can insist on minimum floor clearance heights where there is evidence of adverse effects (eg, a history of flooding).  In relation to financial information, the environment and planning department (for the 2013-14 year), plan to receive operating income of $3.5 million and have similar operating costs (which comprise wages of approx $2.1 million and professional fees of $0.5 million).

Links to Agenda and Minutes

The agenda and meeting minutes can be found on the following webpage (see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2013/2013-11-28).

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