Environment committee meeting (27 August)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 27 August 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Canton, Mirfin, and myself. As part of my apologies I also emailed the chair (together with some other councilors) my line of questions for the committee to consider (if no one else raised them).

The agenda (212 pages) included: (1) environment policy work programme, (2) water monitoring report, (3) dairy effluent report, (4) compliance and enforcement report, (5) manager’s report, and (6) chair’s report. An additional confidential report (106 pages) was also considered.

Much of the agenda comprised information update reports (and decisions to receive reports). I will focus on the main areas of interest.

Environment policy work programme

The essence of this report was a request from staff to re-prioritise the work programme due to resources being stretched. The report also sought to identify the costs associated with each work programme project (as requested at an earlier meeting).

Staff sought the following changes: (1) the Waimea water quality FLAG project be slowed as a lesser priority or paused; (2) land disturbance review be paused (except for contract management of national research); (3) the review of electricity transmission rules be approved to commence; and (4) the one plan review scoping work be slowed. All other live projects would continue on their current pathways under available staff resourcing.

My concern was the recommendation to pause the Waimea Flag project. In my opinion this was an important project. And one that had a high correlation with the wider Waimea plains water augmentation (Dam) proposal. It had to continue. Why would we invest in a dam for urban water supply if the water we are going to invest in was full of nitrates?

Council resolved to continue with the Waimea Flag group work (and not slow or pause the work), subject to staff resourcing.

Water monitoring

Highlights include:

  • The dry weather taskforce met on 8 occasions to impose restrictions under s 329 ofthe Resource Management Act 1991.
  • The total number of meters on the database at the end of the 2014-2015 water year is 1,458, an increase from 1,125 last water year. This number of meters comprises the following: 1,351 Consented meter takes, and 107 Moutere domestic (permitted activity) metered takes.
  • There are now 87% of water meter readings being received electronically. Of those filing electronically, 79% are now filing via the web page service provided by Council, 16% are filing via email, and 5% are filing via telemetry. Council has introduced the ability to provide meter readings through the use of a mobile phone, although still in its infancy, it is expected that this option will be embraced by permit holders.
  • Council is currently in the process of constructing a purpose built water metering data base to address limits to the current database together with a projected increase in monitoring and compliance demands as a result of the Regulations and Waimea Dam development.
  • A total of 642 meters received an audit during the season.
  • There were 6 infringement notices issued for overtakes deemed less than minor.
  • There were 13 invoices issued for staff time required to physically read water meters. These audits were required due to ongoing failure, after repeated requests to supply the required water meter readings.
  • One abatement notice was issued for excess water use by a Motueka company.
  • Water management zone data provided (pages 41 to 78 of the agenda).

Dairy effluent

This report presents the compliance results from the 2014/2015 farm dairy survey. In the 2014-15 season a total of 143 dairy sheds had active discharges in the region. Of those, 137 farm dairies operated as permitted activities and the remaining 6 held resource consents to discharge treated effluent to water.

FarmComplaince2015

The final compliance results for all 143 farms were: 96% (137 farms) fully compliant, 4% (6 farms) non-compliant, 0% significantly non-compliant. Unlike past seasons, ponding did not featured as the most common issue of non-compliance in the non-compliant category.

FarmComplaince2015_2

This is a good solid result given past year trends. Although there is always room for improvement.

Compliance and enforcement

The report outlines consent monitoring performance, and compliance and enforcement responses. Noise compliance is carried out by the regulatory team (and was outside this report).

Over the 2014-15 year a total of 1,339 (818 previous year) resource consents and targeted permitted activities (water metered consents excluded) were monitored and reported on.

Complaince2015_2

Of the consents that were active at the time of inspection overall compliance increased from last year with 66% (60% last period) complying with consent or plan rule requirements. Of the remainder 18% (22% last period) showed non-compliance that had nil or minor adverse effect requiring no or limited enforcement action. The remaining 16% (17% last period) recorded non-compliance with either moderate to significant effect that required more direct enforcement action. Both of these categories were down on last year.

 Compliance Rating  2014/15  2013/14
 Fully complying  772  526
 Non-compliance. Nil or minor adverse effect  219  198
 Non-compliance. Moderate adverse effect  152  65
 Non-compliance. Significant adverse effect  35  79

During the 2014-15 year a total of 1.860 complaints were received by Council related to the RMA or Litter Act. Overall this represented a 2% decrease on the previous 12 months.

Complaince2015_1

During the 2014-15 year Council compliance officers undertook a range of enforcement actions in response to detected non-compliance or breaches.

 Enforcement action  2014-15  2013-14
 Abatement notices  32  136
 Infringement notices  42  50
Enforcement orders  0  0
 Prosecutions  0  2

Managers report

Highlights from the managers report include:

  • Forestry standards. Council’s submission opposes the NESPF in its current format due to a number of issues including: (1) the potential for additional costs to council from plan review requirements and permitted activity compliance monitoring, (2) the underlying principles and drivers behind the NESPF in that it is focused solely on plantation forestry, but has the potential to affect other land and river disturbing activities, (3) concern about the environmental outcomes that may arise from the NESPF and how the rules will relate to requirements under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, (4) concern about the accuracy and practical use of the erosion susceptibility and fish spawning assessment tools used in the rules, (5) concern about the permitted rule cascade and use of permitted activity conditions which may not be valid, and (6) concern about the wording of some conditions which will make it difficult to determine compliance with the rules.
  • Development contributions subcommittee. Council resolved to disestablish this committee given recent legislative changes that moved the objection process to ministerial appointed commissioners.
  • Earthquake prone buildings. Councils policy on dangerous, insanitary, and earthquake prone buildings requires review. However, staff recommended holding off until the recent Government announcements come to fruition. have already moved to adopt the 34% national building standard rather than the 67% standard following the Insurance Council of NZ v Christchurch City Council court case so any delay should not give rise to any issues.
  • Wai-iti Dam. Council resolved to fix a 35 year duration for those permits in the Wai-iti Dam Service Zone subject to appropriate review conditions.
  • Air quality. Council has just taken possession of a new Partisol 2025i air quality monitor, this is the backup and survey unit supporting the primary continuous monitor in Oxford Street.
  • Residential deferred zoning removal. The following zones have had their deferred status removed and can now proceed with development: (1) 138 and 140 Champion Road, (2) 75 and 95 Mapua Drive, (3) south side of Hart and Paton Roads, Richmond.
  • Waimea water management plan change. With the resolution of all appeals, the committee approved Plan Changes 45-48 (Waimea Water Management) to the Tasman Resource Management Plan.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-08-27.

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