Environmental status updates
The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 17 November 2016. Apologies were received from the Mayor for lateness and myself. All other councilors were present.
The agenda included: (1) biosecurity annual report, (2) enforcement policy update, (3) proposed Plan change 64 – update of protected tree schedule, (4) biodiversity report, (5) 2016 air quality report, (6) environment and planning activity report, and (7) chair’s report.
Generally, there were no decisions made other than receive reports and approve Plan Change 64.
Biosecurity annual report
The Council is obliged to report annually on activities undertaken under the Regional Pest Management Plan. This report presented the 2016-17 Operational Plan for implementing the 2012-17 Tasman-Nelson Regional Pest Management Strategy (within an approved budget of $545,000), and summarised the achievements of the 2015-16 Operational Plan.
The Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) contains 62 (declared) pests. These pests are grouped into 5 categories:
Total control pests (2015-16 operational budget: $40,000, recast $35,000, actual $35,000) are high risk pests that are of limited distribution or density in the region for which long-term eradication by 2022 is the goal. There are 13 pest plants (8 terrestrial, 5 aquatic): african feathergrass, bathurst bur, boxthorn, cathederal bells, climbing spindleberry, egeria, entire marshwort, hornwort, maderia vine, phragmites, saffron thistle, senegal tea, and spartina. On all known sites, plant numbers have been reduced, but for some pests, new sites have been found and this may extend the time required for eradication.
Progressive control pests (2015-16 operational budget: $85,000, recast $75,000, actual $100,000) are pests whose distribution is limited to parts of the region but are unlikely to be eradicated because of their biological characteristics. There are 18 pests (12 plants, 5 fish, and one bird: rook). Generally, the goal of distribution and density reduction is being achieved at most sites. However, ongoing changes within the Department of Conservation, re-direction of funding and staff changes during the last two years have restricted its ability to deal with the challenge of controlling pest fish in eastern Tasman.
Containment pests (2015-16 operational budget: $120,000, recast $105,000, actual $100,000) are pests that are abundant in the region. There are 14 pests (4 plants: purple pampas, lagarosiphon, gorse, and broom; 7 mammals: feral cats, rabbits, hares, possums, mustelids; 2 insects: argentine and darwin ants; and one bird: magpie). These are widespread throughout the region and the goal is to stop the spread of these pests to properties that are not infested. The continuing spread of Argentine and Darwin’s ants, despite a significant commitment of resources, highlight the challenges of dealing with highly-organised social insects and the limitations of existing tools. A synthetic pyrethroid spray is being applied in a narrow strip along the margins of footpaths and kerbs. While this slows the rate of spread in urban areas, its effect is relatively short-term and does not prevent re-invasion from neighbouring properties. More information on both ants is located at page 10 of the agenda report.
Boundary control pests (2015-16 operational budget: $10,000, recast $10,000, actual $10,000) are pests (mostly common weeds or horticultural diseases), that have been included to stop the spread to land that is free from these pests. There are 8 plants (eg, blackberry, gorse and broom); and 5 horticltural diseases (on apples and pears). Generally, staff have dealt effectively and efficiently with requests for intervention.
Regional surveillance pests (2015-16 operational budget: $35,000, recast $30,000, actual $45,000) are pest that could pose a future risk. There are 4 pests (yellow flag, parrots feather, pinus contorta, undaria).
Other budget categories include:
Sites of high public value (2015-16 operational budget: $35,000, recast $30,000, actual $10,000). The goal is to control nominated pests on public land.
Biological control (2015-16 operational budget: $35,000, recast $30,000, actual $30,000). The goal is to support ongoing research into biological controls.
National pest plant accord (2015-16 operational budget: $4,000, recast $4,000, actual $4,000). The goal is to prevent sale, propagation or distribution of pest plants.
Education and advice (2015-16 operational budget: $75,000, recast $65,000, actual $105,000).
Marine biosecurity partnership (2015-16 operational budget: $20,000, recast $20,000, actual $20,000). Funded by 3 top of south councils ($20,000 each) and MPI ($60,000).
The 2016-17 operational plan covers 62 (declared) pests. The plan includes:
Total control pests (budget $35,000)
Progressive control pests (budget $100,000)
Containment pests (budget $100,000)
Boundary control pests (budget $10,000)
Regional surveillance pests (budget $55,000)
National pest plan accord ($4,000)
Sites of high public value ($15,000)
Biological control ($30,000)
Education and advice ($105,000)
Training and education ($90,000).
The 2012 Amendments to the Biosecurity Act outlined the requirements for pathway management plans, which are designed to be used to deal with pathways that may carry pests into new areas. The potential for pathway management is being explored as part of the current Regional Pest Management Strategy review.
Enforcement policy update
Council resolved to receive the report.
The Regional Sector Compliance Framework (RSCF) outlines a set of important principles that are designed to give a robustness to any strategic compliance programme. These principles are: transparency, consistency of process, fair, reasonable and proportional approach, evidence based and informed, collaborative, lawful, ethical and accountable, targeted, and responsive and effective.
These principles are reflected in TDC’s Enforcement Policy and Guidelines which outline the enforcement pathway expected to be undertaken, from discovery of an offence, through to the decision to take enforcement action.
The only significant change to the guidelines is the removal of the original “enforcement option matrix” that was designed assist in selecting an enforcement response along with other factors. This has now been replaced with a compliance pyramid model.
Protected tree schedule update
Council resolved to approve Plan Change 64 (Update of Protected Tree Schedule). The Plan Change was publically notified on 24 September 2016 with no submissions being received.
Plan Change 64 amends the Council’s Protected Tree Schedule 16.13B in the Tasman Resource Management Plan, by removing 10 protected trees from the Schedule. These include: Takaka (2 trees), Riwaka (4 trees), Marahau (2 trees), Richmond (1 tree), and Wakefield (1 tree).
Council resolved to receive the report.
The main focus of the Council’s biodiversity work is its Native Habitats Tasman (NHT) Project. This was developed in 2007 following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a number of parties that included the Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, and Forest and Bird Society.
As at 30 June 2016, 504 sites had been inspected and landowners had signed off on 454 reports. The survey commenced in eastern Tasman lowlands and via the higher altitude sites on the Takaka Hill has now moved into Golden Bay (July 2016). Of the landowners who have been contacted about a site visit and preparation of an ecological report for their property, 70% have agreed. It is anticipated that completion of survey work in Golden Bay will take approximately 2 to 3 years. Current expenditure is $52,000 per year.
A copy of the final ecological district report can be downloaded from TDC’s website at: www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/land/biodiversity/motueka-ecological-districtreport/.
Air quality report
Council resolved to receive the report.
The Richmond Airshed was set up under the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality 2004 (NESAQ).
There were 5 exceedances of the NESAQ for particulate matter (PM10) over the winter of 2016. These exceedances are correlated with complaints and webcam images of outdoor burning occurring in the orchards around the Richmond airshed. The trend in annual concentrations of PM10 has improved over the last ten years, which is due to regulations on household burners, education, and enforcement. The maximum PM10 concentration for 2016 was 66 μg/m3.
A source apportionment study for Richmond has shown 52% of particulate matter is from biomass combustion, attributed to solid fuel appliances in Richmond. A source of arsenic in PM10 was also identified and was not associated with the domestic fires. The annual average arsenic concentrations for 2014 in Richmond was 19 ng/m3, which exceeded the ambient air quality guideline value (5.5ng/m3).
Air Quality PM10 BAM adjusted concentrations in Richmond for 2015-16
Trends in PM10 adjusted concentrations in Richmond
Number of Exceedances of 24-Hour PM10 for Richmond
The sources of the PM10 for Richmond (see Figure 9) were biomass combustion (52%), motor vehicles (17%), marine aerosol (16%), secondary sulphate (13%), and copper chrome arsenate (CCA) (2%).
Average source contributions to PM10 in Richmond (from GNS Science report)
There were 41 exceedances of the global world health organisation (WHO) daily guideline value for the finer fraction of particulate matter (PM2.5) over the period from May to August 2016, with a peak concentration of 46 μg/m3.
Partisol PM 2.5 concentrations in Richmond for 2015-16
The NESAQ is currently under review and TDC will need to review its air quality management provisions when the outcome is known. Based on current trends, during normal winter weather, Tasman District Council may not achieve the current requirements of the NESAQ which is no more than one exceedance per year by 2020.
Environment and planning activity report
Council resolved to receive the report and appointed Mr Mike Fitzsimons to the position of District Licensing Committee Commissioner for a 5-year term of appointment.
Highlights from the manager’s report include:
Swimming pool fencing. Parliament has passed law repealing the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and merging the obligation Council has into the Building Act. The main change is a move to mandatory 3 yearly inspections which can be undertaken by Council staff or authorised private contractors. If the latter are involved they are required to pass information on the Council for the property file. Companion changes are also being made to the Building Code with submissions closing 16 December. Spa pools with lockable lids will not require inspection, meaning TDC will no longer have to grant exemptions under a 2014 Council-approved policy. The new law comes into effect from 1 January 2017.
National policy statement (NPS) on urban development capacity. The Government has signed off on a National Policy Statement to ensure councils provide enough land for new housing and business development. Tasman is a local authority that has a medium-growth urban area within it, which we share with Nelson City. Having sufficient land for development also means we have to provide an additional margin of 20% for the first 10 years and 15% for 10 to 30 years. Council is required to carry out a housing and business development capacity assessment on at least a 3-yearly basis. The NPS takes effect from 1 December 2017.
Waimea nitrate survey. Council has previously conducted groundwater nitrate surveys across the Waimea Plains in 1986, 1994, 1999, and 2005. Council will repeat that survey (sampling around 100 bores) starting towards the end of November 2016.
Our waters. Council prepared a State of the Environment Report on river water quality in November 2015 under its reporting obligations under the Resource Management Act. Last year the Council released a movie entitled “Our Waters in Common” as an innovative way of reporting to the community on the health of our water ways. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=81zNEmTCYVY.
Freedom camping. This matter was raised at the 27 October Council meeting and an update requested. The Government has indicated that it will review the Freedom Camping Act soon and Council has offered to assist in this review. A review of TDC’s Freedom Camping Bylaws will be undertaken after the Governments review in August 2017.
Finances. Generally, at 33% of the financial year completed, expenditure is slightly under budget overall and non-rate income overall is ahead of budget.
Agenda and minutes
the agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/committees-and-subcommittees/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2016/2016-11-17.
Draft minutes are available upon request from TDC.
The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 17 March 2016. Apologies were accepted from Mayor Kempthorne and Crs Inglis and Mirfin. All other councillors were present.
The agenda included: (1) protected tree update, (2) building control manager’s report, (3) regulatory manager’s report, (4) presentation report from Nelson environment centre, (5) River water quality monitoring programme review, (6) Environment and planning activity report, and (7) Chairs report.
Public forum included presentations from Karen Steadman and Murray Dawson.
Karen (a real estate agent and resident) spoke about the rural review and allocating a rural zone in Murchison to allow lifestyle blocks and more subdivision. She thought the community needed to attract people to the area in order to sustain the town and that affordable homes were required.
Murray Dawson spoke about the need for weirs and suggested that weirs be considered as an alternative water augmentation option to the Waimea Community Dam.
Council agreed to remove 13 protected trees from the Protected Tree Schedule.
The trees were ranked originally as either Category B or C trees. There were no Category A trees. The request was based on the council arborist’s assessment that the trees no longer met the STEM assessment criteria to qualify as protected trees, because they had been storm damaged, had developed poor form, or had deteriorating health.
The trees were located in Takaka, Riwaka, Marahau, Appleby, Richmond (at the far end of Appaloosa Avenue), Brightwater and Wakefield and are comprised of a mix of species. A map of the relevant tree locations is enclosed in the agenda (at page 21 to 41).
Council received the building manager’s report for the period from 1 March 2015 to 29 February 2016. Highlights included:
- IANZ audit. Completed in October 2015. Four corrective actions were issued with a clearance date of February 2016. The most significant issue was skilled resourcing levels. All corrective actions have now been resolved with the BCA being reaccredited in February 2016. A further audit will be completed in October 2016.
- Go Shift. TDC joined the Go Shift initiative that will lead to consistent consenting and inspection practices across 21 councils in the Lower North Island and Top of the South.
- Team rebranding. Building Control rebranded as Building Assurance.
- Staff. 6 staff are departing and 6 replacement staff have been recruited. In response to the IANZ audit, some staff capacity and capability has been lifted. Any cost implications will be covered by reduced spend in direct costs and non-rate income, so as to avoid any impact on general rates.
- Building consent fees. A review will take place in the first quarter of 2016-17 financial year.
The number of consents issued is illustrated below (and shows a 9.2 % increase across all work streams).
Council received the regulatory manager’s report for the period from 1 March 2015 to 29 February 2016. Highlights from the manager’s report included:
- Restructuring. Building Section became a stand-alone entity in April 2015 and the Compliance Section (previously part of Environmental Information) came into the Regulatory fold. There have been no staff changes or additions. Three members of staff reduced their hours by 4 hours per week; this has in part, allowed an increase in administrative support for the department which will commence on 1 July 2016.
- Development contributions (DCs). The DC policy was recently challenged in the court and successfully defended. However, the commissioner’s comments indicated that the use of better defined catchments would make our Policy less likely to be challenged in future. Staff intend brining a report to council on this issue.
- Freedom camping. There were 152 complaints received over the period 1 May 2015 to 29 February 2016. Eighteen Infringement Notices were issued at Motueka Beach Reserve and Control Services have spent approximately 250 hours on policing and enforcement activities (they are contracted for a total of 120 hours).
- Oil spill response. The regulatory manager is the only Regional On-Scene Commander (ROSC) at TDC. This is not a cause for alarm as Nelson council have two ROSC employed as contractors and TDC work in tandem with them.
- Civil Defence (CD). The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) recent “Monitoring and Evaluation report”, showed that the Nelson Tasman CDEM’s overall score was-82.1%, the highest in New Zealand.
- Rural fire. The Government has progressed a Fire Service Review that will ultimately see the NZ Fire Service and Rural Fire Forces combine to make a single service.
- Alcohol and food licensing. This has increased by an average of 12% with only Special Licenses showing a fall in applications. Other licensing (Food and Health premises) has increased by 15%. The effects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act have been effectively absorbed into the team roles.
- Food safety. The new Food Act requirements have started to take effect from 1 March 2016. Over the last three years only about 30% of eligible food businesses moved over to the new requirements before the 1 March deadline.
- Noise complaints. This have risen by over 12%, primarily through complaint of noise from parties.
- Insanitary housing. Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) dealt with 3 insanitary dwellings over the period. In all cases cleansing orders were issued to ensure compliance.
- Dog registrations. 99.46% of known dogs were registered at 29 February 2016 (total dogs 1,044, registered 10,450, unregistered 57). Two prosecutions were taken for dogs attacking humans.
- Parking. Parking infringements dating back to 2006 that have been processed to court, but are still outstanding, totals $101,855.00. Infringements issued: 1671 (2014-15), 1961 (2015-16). Fines issued: $79,149.00 minus cancellations of $8,742.00 (2014-15), $84,586.00 minus cancellations of $14,834.00 (2015-16). Revenue: $70,407.00 (2014-15), $69,752.00 (2015-16).
- Harbour master. The Harbour master has done about 48 days at sea over the last 12 months. A number of derelict boats have been notified for removal within the district and the Harbour master currently has five vessels to dispose of. The Harbourmaster has also towed eight recreational vessels to safety, and attended and co-ordinated the recovery of three vessels that had sunk. The new harbour master’s boat is nearing completionwith a pre-handover inspection completed on 10 February.
- Port Tarakoe (Takaka). After 5 years in Port Tarakohe the Santa Monica (42 metres long, 392 tonnes) has moved to Westport.
River water quality
Council’s River Water Quality Monitoring Programme is currently being reviewed. This is the first major review in 16 years of operation. Implementation of the revised programme is expected in July 2016.
The major change proposed I the review is to increase the sampling frequency to monthly, with sampling to occur at all flow conditions (currently council only samples at low flows), while reducing the number of sampling sites by about half. There should be no impact on budgets from this change.
Presentation report from Nelson environment centre
Carolyn Hughes presented on water conservation and Nelson Environment Centre’s (NEC) proposal for smart metering and promoting behavioural change within Tasman District communities. NEC sought funding from TDC to cover trialling this initiative. NEC was asked to provide cost estimates to staff and for staff to report back on the impact on existing budgets.
Environment and planning activity report
Council received the managers report. Highlights included:
- Wetlands. Staff are planning for two meetings with land owners of wetlands in Golden Bay in the next couple of months.
- Native habitat survey. The next part of the Native Habitat Survey under the auspices of Native Habitats Tasman (NHT) is also about to move in Golden Bay towards the middle of this year.
- Rainfall. Data on rainfall is viewable from TDC webpage (by clicking the relevant point on the map) at www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/water/rainfall/.
- Finance. At 67% of the way through the year, expenditure is under budget overall and non-rate income overall is slightly ahead of budget. So looking good.
Council approved the specified delegations to staff so they could properly execute functions assigned to TDC under the Food Act 2014.
Council also agreed to establish, with Nelson City Council, a Regional Pest Management Joint Committee and appointed Crs Bryant, Ensor and Norriss to the Regional Pest Management Joint Committee.
Highlights from the chairs report include:
- Westport link road. Gary Howard, Mayor of Buller, has met with both the Murchison and Tapawera community councils and gave a brief outline of Buller’s roading proposal from Little Wanganui near Karamea, through the Wangapeka to the Motueka Valley. The plan can be viewed on the Buller District Council website link at: http://bullerdc.govt.nz/council-to-discuss-a-new-roadlinking- nelson-and-westport/.
- Rural land use changes. The rural land use & subdivision plan change, Proposed Change 60, has been open for submissions since January, and the submission period closed 14 March. Three open public briefing meetings were held at: Wakefield, Takaka and Motueka.
- Developer’s Forum meeting. A half year report to the Minister of Housing on the Housing Accord showed there is a lot of development going on with 110 new residential sections and 199 new residential houses, compared to a six-month target of 65 and 150 respectively.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2016/2016-03-17.
The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 4 February 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Norris and Cr Mirfin, and for lateness from Cr Dowler. All other councillors were present.
The agenda included a number of information only reports and a confidential (in-committee) session on: (1) a private plan change request from Progressive Enterprises Ltd, (2) report and recommendations from commissioner on Plan changes 54, 55 and 56 relating to the Waimea Water Management (Security of Supply), and (3) a report on weather tight home resolution case.
The open agenda included: (1) reduction of fees categories for certain off-licences, (2) environmental policy manager’s report on environmental policy programme, (3) compliance monitoring 6-monthly report (1 July to 31 December 2015), (4) resource consent manager’s report (July to December 2015), (5) 2015 air quality report. (6) pesticide residues in groundwater 2014 survey, (7) environment and planning teams activity report (the manager’s report), and (8) chair’s report.
I will summarise the highlights for me from these reports.
Mr Hellyer raised his concerns about freedom camping in the district. He considered it an appalling situation and asked that TDC enforce some of its bylaws. He suggested some freedom campers should use motor camps (which are very cheap!).
Mr Clark gave his condolences to the family of Nick Paterson who had recently passed away. A reminder to everyone how fleeting life can be. Maxwell asked that the Waimea Water Management (Security of Supply) Plan Changes 54, 55 and 56 be considered in open meeting, instead of in-committee. He also spoke about an article in a local paper (Tasman Leader 21 January 2016) pages 4-5), which contained Councillors opinions on the Waimea Community Dam. He asked councilors come clean on where they stood on the dam and considered some councillors were sitting on the fence with “hairy fairy” comments like “holistic”.
Interestingly, many councillors did not vote, how they said they would (see full council meeting agenda and minutes (recording the vote) of 31 March 2016 at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2016/2016-03-31)?
Mr Dawson also asked that council do not spend any more money on the proposed Waimea Community Dam. He suggested the current $25 million was more than enough. He warned that council should not be manipulated into dam. He asked that his questions to staff about the hydrology are given an adequate response. He also asked why there were no public forums at extraordinary (mini) full councils meetings?
Off-licence fee reduction
In my opinion, this was the most significant item on the agenda.
By way of background, the TDC has adopted the statutory regulations for fee setting (rather than introduce its own Bylaw), as set out by central government (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013 at www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2013/0452/latest/DLM5708133.html).
In this case, two local boutique businesses (Peckham Ciders and Schnapp Dragon Distillery) wrote to council asking that their off-licence fees be reduced. Peckham Ciders argued that they did not make cellar door sales and instead sold most of their products remotely via their website or directly to trade distributors. Schnapp Dragon made a similar argument, stating that while they sold products on-site (from the cellar door), they did not allow consumption of their products on-site.
Generally, the regulations use a classification and weighting system to determine fees and charges. This is achieved by adding a retailer classification risk weighting and enforcement risk weighting together to determine the overall risk weighting and corresponding fee for the application.
For example, a business that sells alcohol is classified into the following types of retailers:
|Licence held or sought||Type of premises||Weighting|
|On-licence||Class 1 restaurant, night club, tavern, adult premises||15|
|On-licence||Class 2 restaurant, hotel, function centre||10|
|On-licence||Class 3 restaurant, other premises not otherwise specified||5|
|On-licence||BYO restaurants, theatres, cinemas, winery cellar doors||2|
|Off-licence||Supermarket, grocery store, bottle store||15|
|Off-licence||Class 1, 2, or 3 club, remote sale premises, premises not otherwise specified||5|
|Off-licence||Winery cellar doors||2|
|Club licence||Class 1 club||10|
|Club licence||Class 2 club||5|
|Club licence||Class 3 club||2|
The relevant weighting is then combined with another enforcement weighting:
|Number of enforcement holdings in last 18 months (applies to all types of premises)||Weighting|
|2 or more||20|
The total number is then used to create an overall risk rating that generates the license cost.
|Cost/risk rating of premises||Fees category||Application fee||Annual fee|
|26 plus||Very high||$1,050.00||$1,250.00|
Due to the manner in which the regulations were drafted, cellar door sales (of wine) are awarded a lower risk rating, than other businesses that sell spirit based alcohol from the door. This is good for the wine industry, who can obtain a lower risk rating by adding a cellar door operation to their business. Although it does create a strange outcome for vineyards that do not operate a cellar door?
I suspect the underlying reason for this distinction is an acknowledgement that the consumption of wine presents a lower risk, than the consumption of spirits. However, the regulations as they are currently drafted do not appear to recognise that online (remote) sales of alcohol (wine or spirits) provide an even lower risk of drink driving incidents. This is because online sales cannot be consumed at the point of purchase (ie at the vineyard or distillery), but are delivered to the home.
In my opinion, the regulations are poorly drafted and fail to make a clear distinction between the types of alcohol (ie wine vs spirits) and the point of sale (ie online (remote) vs site of manufacture). Ideally the regulations should separate out winery sales (remote or cellar door, and all other remote sales. This could be done by adding “remote sales” as a separate classification and awarding a risk rating of “2”. Unfortunately this is not the case, and TDC were left to apply another rule provided within the regulations (clause 6(4) of the regulations) – namely exercising a discretion to reduce the overall risk rating by one step (eg from “low” to “very low”). Exercising the discretion would save affected businesses $810 (over 3 years).
Staff recommended that council allow the applicants to be classified in the “very low” risk category as permitted in the Act. Council, after asking for information about the financial impact of a positive decision, unanimously agreed. Council also took the opportunity to reduce non-commercial community events and fundraising licensing categories by one step. Both changes took affect from the date of the resolutions (and were not retrospective).
TDC information on licensing can be found at www.tasman.govt.nz/services/licensing-and-environmental-health/alcohol-licensing/off-licence/.
Environmental policy programme
This report updated progress with live plan change projects in the environmental policy programme, and discussed priorities, deadlines, and staff resourcing for 2016.
Plan changes included: Richmond greenways (Plan Change 37), Wakefield review (Plan Change 57) Brightwater review (Plan Change 58) Residential zone coverage (Plan Change 59), Rural land use and subdivision policy review (Plan Change 60), PPCR Wainui Bay (Plan Change 61), PPCR Commercial Richmond north (Plan Change 62), Coastal occupation charges (Plan Change 63) Mooring review (Plan Change 64), NPSET – electricity transmission lines review (Plan Change 65), Golden Bay landscapes (Plan Change 66), Urban development review (Plan Change 67), Takaka catchments water management (Plan Change 68), Waimea Plains water quality (Plan Change 69), Richmond residential zone review (Plan Change 70), Takaka and Waimea plains FLAG projects.
The report provided a summary of the complaints, incidents, and general monitoring over a 6-month period (from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015). Between 1 July and 31 December a total of 428 complaints or requests for service were received by the compliance team. In comparison 479 complaints were received for the same period the previous year and 482 the year before that.
A total of 25 abatement notices were issued over the period. A total of 19 infringement fines were issued for breaches against the Resource Management Act or Litter Act. A total of 2278 individual monitoring actions were recorded against 1093 resource consents as part of the Council’s targeted compliance monitoring programme. Enforcement actions in relation to water takes in the district were: 1 abatement notice, 2 infringement fines, and 3 invoices for missing readings audits.
The 2015-16 dairy farm survey started in September 2015 as farms commenced milking. As at the end of December 2015, 40 farms had been inspected. There were 6 recorded instances of non-compliances within the first few weeks of the audits. Of these, 3 farms rated as non-compliant and 3 significantly non-compliant.
For the 3 rated non-compliant, one related to the discharge not meeting the setback requirement to a property boundary. The other two related to minor ponding o f effluent on the ground’s surface but did not pose any threat of run-off to water. For the 3 rated significant, the offences included the direct discharge of effluent to water, significant ponding of effluent on the ground’s surface that resulted in run-off into a waterway and a farm with no contingency in place to avoid a discharge to water. All 3 were dealt with through abatement notices and infringement fines.
The report presented a summary of the performance of the resource consent team regarding compliance with statutory timeframes for the first half of the 2015-2016 financial year.
Overall, 481 resource consent applications (including variations to existing consents) were processed, with 99.8% compliance with statutory timeframes during the 6-month period. Around 35% of all applications had time extensions applied (similar to last year).
The permit replacement processes for all water takes in the Wai-iti Zone, and the first batch of 40 water permits affected by the Waimea Augmentation proposals (Lee Valley Dam), had begun at the time of this report. Water users were able to continue to exercise their old permits in the interim period until new permits were completed.
In my opinion, the consent performance was very good, given resourcing issues (mainly due to staff changes) and increased workload.
Timeliness Results (July-December 2015) Non-notified Applications
|Type of Application||Number Complete||Percentage Within Time||Median Processing Days **|
|2012 *||2013 *||2014 *||2015 *|
|Non-notified Applications (No Hearing)|
|Non-Notified Applications (With Hearing)|
|* Numbers include applications to change conditions of existing consents.|
|** Processing days include time extensions. Time extensions are typically required for large and/or complex subdivisions including associated discharge permits for wastewater and stormwater disposal for new rural residential allotments. Time extensions are also applied for the bulk processing of replacement water permits for water management zones.|
|*** The “Others” category includes Rights of Way (ROWs), Designations, Outline Plans and Certificates of Compliance.|
Timeliness Results (July-December 2015) Notified Applications
|Type of Application||Number Complete||Percentage Within Time||Average Processing Days *|
|2012 *||2013 *||2014 *||2015 *|
|Publicly Notified Applications (No Hearing)|
|Publicly Notified Applications (With Hearing)|
|Limited Notified Applications (No Hearing)|
|Limited Notified Applications (With Hearing)|
|All||1||2||42 **||5||100.00%||333 ***|
|* Processing days include time extensions.|
|** The limited notified applications in 2014 included 27 discharge permits for rural subdivisions.|
|*** The applications with long processing times all involved requests from the applicants to give them time to attempt to resolve issues with submitters.|
Summary of Decisions
|Type of Decision||Number|
|Declined by Committee||0|
|Granted by Committee||2|
|Declined by Independent Commissioners||0|
|Granted by Independent Commissioners||11|
|Granted by Mixed Panel||0|
|Declined under Delegated Authority||0|
|Granted under Delegated Authority||468|
|Requiring Authority Decision (Designations)||0|
The report updated the Environment & Planning Committee on results of air quality monitoring in Richmond undertaken during the winter of 2015. Based on current trends, during normal winter weather TDC is on track to achieve the current requirements of the National Environmental Standard Air Quality (NESAQ). The NESAQ is set by law and TDC is required to meet it.
Over the last winter the NESAQ was exceeded 3 times for 24 hour average particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10). This is the second best result on record since air quality monitoring began in Richmond in 2001 and much lower than the total number of exceedences recorded during 2013 (nine), although one more exceedance than that recorded during 2014 (two).
The majority of smoke related complaints related to outdoor burning, with 15 complaints in the Richmond area, 12 in the Moutere Waimea area and 36 within the Motueka area.
The report discussed Council’s participation in the National Survey of Pesticides in New Zealand Groundwaters and presented the results of the latest round of sampling.
In Tasman, 15 groundwater sites are sampled at 4-yearly intervals and tested for the presence of pesticide residues. Tasman has participated in this programme since 1998 completing 5 surveys to date.
Overall, the 2014 sampling confirms the continued presence of trace level pesticide residues in groundwater at some locations (seven). Whilst showing some variability, no sites show any significant increases in pesticide residues compared to the previous sampling results.
The pesticide residues detected in Tasman groundwaters during the 2014 sampling round were:
- Simazine pre-emergence herbicide (field half-life: 26 – 186 days),
- Terbuthylazine herbicide for grass and broadleaf weed control (field half-life: 60 days),
- Dinoseb herbicide for grass and broadleaf weed control (field half-life: 100 days).
Environment and planning activity report
Highlights from the managers report include:
- Marine protection areas. There are two marine reservations in Tasman – Tonga Island and Whanganui Inlet. Both will transition into new reserve status under the proposed law changes.
- RMA reform. The LGA and Productivity Commission have released think pieces on the future of the RMA (see www.lgnz.co.nz/home/our-work/publications/a-blue-skies-discussion/, and www.productivity.govt.nz/inquiry-content/2682?stage=2).
- Woodburners. Nelson council (NCC) is proposing a limited number of Ultra Low Emission Burners (ULEBs) be allowed in Airshed B2 (including Stoke, Wakatu and Enner Glynn) and Airshed C (including Port Hills, City Centre, The Brook, The Wood and Atawhai). If there are further improvements to air quality over the next few years, the plan change proposes that burners could also become a permitted activity in Airshed A (including Bishopdale, Victory, Toi Toi, between the colleges, and Washington Valley) and Airshed B1 (Tahunanui and Tahunanui Hills south of The Cliffs). TDC is unlikely to have any spare capacity in the Richmond Airshed to allow a change in the current woodburner policy.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2016/2016-02-04.
The full council meeting on 19 February 2015 will be discussing the Waimea Community Dam and the use of the CCO. Those with an interest should read the agenda. This should be posted live on Monday (16 February) at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015.
Speaking of the Dam. There are many sources of crop failure. Drought is one. But it appears climate change is also bringing other extreme weather events that are just as likely to wipe out crops (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/65718201/storm-destroys-central-otago-apples).
In the immortal words of the castle, “they’re dreamin” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dik_wnOE4dk)
Amalgamation in 2018? Really?
In my opinion, we need more back room co-operation and synchronisation of operational systems and functions to make it cost effective. Given the experiences of dealing with NCC to date, that won’t happen in the time they have suggested (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/66138524/Plan-for-citys-future-laid-out).
Amalgamation is not a panacea. Empirical research suggests the opposite (http://press.anu.edu.au//agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html).
An assessment of the Economic Development Agency, Nelson Tasman Tourism and Uniquely Nelson is being undertaken by NCC in its long term plan. This could lead to the creation of a single agency with an integrated approach to promoting and growing the city. I think I suggested this in a blog sometime ago and certainly endorse this direction.
Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings
I’ve never been in favour of traffic lights.
Nobody likes to stop. And that makes traffic lights or pedestrian crossings, quite dangerous for people.
In my opinion, roundabouts are more efficient and much safer.
Cars don’t race towards roundabouts, as they do amber traffic lights, and that can only be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Plus, with roundabouts, drivers get to self regulate, rather than wait for a pre-programmed computer program to run through its pre-determined light phases, that is unable to know if cars are present or not.
But what if we made pedestrian crossing more fun … could that make them a little safer … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk
I always found the title ” freedom camping” to be a very misleading label, given the attached conditions in the law.
On that note it’s interesting to read about other councils grappling with the same rules and their enforcement (see http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/332815/call-follow-resort-freedom-campers).
The environment and planning committee met on 29 January 2015. All councillors were present, except for Cr Ensor, with Crs Edgar, King, and the mayor arriving after the start of the meeting.
There was no public forum.
The meeting comprised the following information reports and items: (1) the proposed treatment of coastal occupation charges, (2) the proposed environmental policy programme and projects for 2015, (3) the state of the environment report, (4) 6-monthly environmental compliance report, (5) 6-monthly resource consents report, (5) dog control update report, (6) biodiversity report, (7) committee chairs report, and (8) the environment manager’s report (which included updating the committee on: a recent coroner’s report, approved plan change 22 for the Mapua-Ruby bay development, freedom camping, warmer healthier homes project, waimea rural fire authority, and TDC’s submission to the productivity commission).
Coastal occupation charge
This matter was discussed extensively at the environment and planning committee meeting of 13 November 2014, where it was agreed by participating councilors that TDC would not implement a coastal occupation charging regime. Staff were directed at that meeting to draft an appropriately worded plan change in accordance with that decision.
Accordingly, the committee unanimously resolved to approve the release of draft plan change 56 which stated that TDC would not impose a coastal occupation charging regime at present. This resolution will subsequently be presented to full council for approval, as all binding decisions of council must be made by the majority of the full council.
Coastal occupation charges are fees imposed on users of public spaces within the inshore marine coastal area and seabed. Effectively, the charges are a rent on the use of public marine spaces and replace the former Harbour Act lease and license regime. For example, the use of the sea bed for moorings, jetties, wharves, boat ramps, cables, pipes, or marine farms, could be charged by council if a coastal charging regime was established by council.
Why would council go through the hassle of making such a statement? Well, council is required by law (under ss 64A and 401 of the RMA) to consider whether it will implement coastal occupation charging regime and make a statement on such a regime. This requires the council to either state in its regional coastal plan that charges will not be imposed, or propose policies and rules for the implementation of such charges.
To date there have been few councils who have taken up the opportunity to charge for the use of the inshore seabed. No doubt this is a reflection of the complexity and cost of drafting, consulting, and implementing such a regime. From my perspective, there seems little net financial benefit for the community in implementing such a regime at this time. Given marine farming in this region is still in its infancy, the money that would be raised from such a regime, would probably only offset the cost of establishing and administering the regime. Such a money go round would benefit no one other than the council administrators. Further, it is far better to reduce (or avoid) any new red tape for businesses – especially when you want an industry to get a good foothold in Tasman, for the greater good of the regional economy.
A detailed evaluation report of the costs and benefits of adopting a coastal occupation charging regime is attached to the agenda (see pages 13 to 30). Interestingly, the evaluation report concluded that all coastal occupations (except jetty,wharves, and boat ramps) had greater private benefit than net public benefit and marine consent holders should compensate the public for the loss of use. No doubt when the marine farming industry become more established (and can afford to pay) costal occupation charges will be revisited by a future council.
2015 environmental policy programme
In the middle of 2014, a number of workshops were held so that councillors could review and prioritise the 34 proposed environmental programmes, that had been identified for consideration under the 10 year (2015-2025) Long-term Plan (LTP). These projects included: mooring and coastal occupation charges, significant landscapes, rural land use, storm water management, urban design, residential zoning, and water quality management. See the agenda (pages 31 to 50) for a full list of all projects and more detail.
The committee resolved to receive the planning manager’s report and directed staff to begin scoping the possible size, cost, and nature of prioritised projects for future council consideration, before any approved commencement of any project.
State of the environment for land and soil
The 2014 report on the environmental state of land and soil (see executive summary at pages 55 to 60 of the agenda) provides an update on the monitoring of soil in various locations of the region.
The report surveyed 6,005 locations for soil erosion and continued to monitor 25 locations (identified in 2000) for soil health, classification type, and mapping purposes. The mapping of soil types will help improve our knowledge of drainage and the required levels of irrigation.
The report has also monitored the changing use of land in the district. For example, between 1996 and 2008, there has been: a 10% increase (9,750 ha) in exotic forestry; 17% decrease (21,152 ha) in pasture; 95% increase (5,266 ha) in horticulture, viticulture, and cropping; 55% increase (1.073 ha) in urban use.
Interestingly, the dairy farming trend in the Tasman region is not following the national trend. Tasman dairy cow stock numbers have only increased by 1.2% (54,580 to 55,227 cows) compared to the national trend of 11% (or 2.56 cows per ha). In Tasman, total beef cattle numbers dropped 33% (56,155 to 42,268 cattle) from 2003 to 2013. For the same period, deer dropped 67% (33,537 to 14,259 deer).
The committee resolved to receive the report (ie, no decision, other than to receive the report, was required).
The report provides a summary of the council’s compliance activities for the first half of the 2014-15 period (ie 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2014) in comparison to the prior 6-month period. For example, the volume and timing of complaints from ratepayers in relation to various activities.
Generally, complaints were slightly lower than the previous 6-month period, with complaints over air, water and land discharges from 2003 to 2013 still dominating staff time. Interestingly, only 5 freedom camping complaints were made. This would suggest that the new freedom camping rules are working well, although there appear to be still a few problems in Motueka (which I will discuss later).
One prosecution was successfully made against Awarua Farms Ltd and Mr Wooley in relation to dairy activities. Awarua Farms was fined $60,000 and Mr Wooley’s sentencing has been adjourned until 4 March in Blenheim. The only enforcement order activity for the 6-month period was made against CJ Industries Ltd (operating in Motueka) due to uncontrolled dust discharges from crushing activities. All requirements of the order have now been met and staff continue to monitor progress.
Stage 1 water rationing was implemented in the second week of December (ending 18 December). Compliance was very good and no infringement notices were issued. Despite the dry start (for the two months up to December 2014), metering shows water consumption figures of less than 50% across all zones. Recent rainfalls have also been appreciated.
All “1080” poisoning operations were extensively monitored by staff (especially given the level of public interest and potential effects). With the exception of one incident in the Lockett area (where some of the bait was applied outside of the designated control area, due to a combination of drop events and terrain), all operations were fully compliant.
Large scale earthworks have been occurring in the Richmond south area (Wensley Road, Fairise Drive, and Hart Road area). While work has been compliant with consent conditions, the work has resulted in a number of complaints from residents. From complaints, I have received, these have mainly been due to the frequency and noise of heavy trucks carrying soil from the development through a well established residential community.
Ideally, the consent conditions should have been consistent with the Olive estate development. Unfortunately, due to timing, the constraints placed on the Olive Estate development (to not use Fairise drive for heavy trucks) was not placed on the Wensley\Hart Road development. Ideally, council should have remedied the problem by enabling the developer to access Hill Street or Hart’s Road directly from when the inconsistency was identified.
Fortunately, my conversations with the developer’s trucking contractor were largely constructive, with the truck contractor agreeing to shift truck movements away from the densely populated Fairise Drive to Hill Street (albeit after 31 December 2014). Thus reducing the impact on the number of residents. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the contractor (and developer) for accommodating the wishes of residents outside of any legal requirement to do so.
There are three different types of resource consent: (1) notified (where all the public are made aware of the resource consent application), (2) limited notification (where only neighbours or those directly affected are made aware), and (3) non-notified (where generally only the applicant and council staff are aware of the application).
The graph below provides a comparative analysis of non-notified resource consents between 2014 and 2012. The graph also highlights how long it took for staff to process the 484 resource consent applications made in 2014. In 2014, only 4 non-notified resource consent applications required a hearing.
The following graph compares notified and non-notified consents for the same periods. It is quite marked that the volume of publicly notified and limited notification consents are very low. The data would appear to indicate that the notification process (ie public or limited) does not appear to have a material impact on the volume of resource consents that council process. Although it is noticeable that the time taken to process these applications is longer than most other non-notified applications (except coastal applications). No doubt this reflects the higher level of public participation in the consent process.
Another interesting piece of data is the outcome of resource decisions from various decision makers. The graph below illustrates the decisions made by those bodies. The majority of consent decisions are approved under delegated authority (by staff).
Interestingly, only independent commissioners appear to decline applications. In my opinion, the dramatic absence of applications being declined by a committee or panel (of councillors), or by staff, would appear to suggest that there might be some bias in the outcomes – either that, or independent commissioners have more difficult decisions to consider. I suspect independent commissioners are probably less prone to relying on reports provided by council staff when declining or approving consent applications.
There have been few objections to decisions made under delegation. Two from the previous year are yet to be resolved – one for a subdivision consent in Ruby Bay and the effect of Plan Change 22 (inundation prone land), and the second relating to conditions imposed on the proposed Mapua Drive development and the upgrade of road frontage. Three made in the last 6 months relate to coastal permits for marine farms at Wainui Bay, and a fourth concerns a Mapua subdivision development seeking a change to its consent application.
Plan change 22 (Maua-Ruby Bay development) has been the subject of 4 appeals in 2012. Three have been resolved by mutual consent. The fourth concerned a 3 ha site that flood modeling identified as prone to flooding. In December 2014, the court dismissed the developers appeal for 12 additional residential sites to be added to the development and confirmed that the district plan provisions for managing the hazard risks were appropriate, and that the additional sites increased the level of flooding risk.
Several court appeals heard over the last 6 months are summarised in the agenda (page 75). They included appeals against: coastal protection work conditions in Pakawau, subdivision intensification in Appleby Hills, subdivision reconfiguration within Pangatotara rural residential zone, and intensification of a rural residential zone in Seaton Valley Mapua.
The resource consent application for the Waimea Community Dam is expected to be released in February 2015.
Interestingly staff have acknowledged (page 79) that “co-ordinating the management of stormwater flows from the eight development areas within the Wensley Block [Richmond South area] is an ongoing challenge”. I could not agree more, and its why council needs to ensure this area’s storm water issues are addressed in the short-term to mitigate any risk of flooding. I am already aware that some residents in the area are on their final insurance warning (ie, there will be no further insurance cover if buildings are flooded again). Council must ensure residential storm water issues are addressed before any other significant capital investment.
Notably, an application to formalise use of the seabed in Moutre inlet for the “muddy buddy” event (held in March each year) has been granted on a non-notified track. The new track is now in an area well away from most sensitive shoreline habitat, and will alternate each year to reduce any impact on the surrounding estuary. Te Tau Ihu iwi have been very supportive of the consent.
This is a very positive outcome and reinforces the fact that the RMA does work. The surrounding estuary is a very important eco-system for the whole bay area and its use needs to be protected from unsustainable activities. Balancing the needs of the community while ensuring the environment is protected is a very positive outcome and staff should be congratulated in working though the legal issues in the RMA to get to the right outcome. Well done to everyone involved.
I would also like to congratulate TDC’s approach to the “monster slide” debacle that was happening over in Nelson during January 2015. I think the message that was taken home was that TDC is open for business. We now need to apply (and reinforce) that pro-active customer focused culture to the rest of the council’s operations on an ongoing basis.
Generally (and comparatively), dog control is not very controversial for this council. By way of background, the number of dog owners in the district is 6,617 with the number of registered dogs being 10,227 (5,601 rural and 4,626 urban).
Most infringement notices relate to registration failure (159). Between July 2013 and June 2014, 8 dogs were classified as dangerous, and 45 dogs as having a menancing behaviour. However, there is still the odd prosecution for more serious incidents. For example, in May 2013, a dog was destroyed for attacking stock and another for attacking a horse on Rabbit island. In October 2013, a dog was destroyed for attacking a pet lamb.
Overall, the statistics suggest dogs are well controlled in the district and the bylaws are working effectively.
The committee received the 2014 biodiversity report. A copy is available from the council’s webpage. The current programme costs $56,500 per year ($26,500 per year funded by council, and the remainder from the government’s Biofund). The biodiversity programme is designed to assist council meet its legal (RMA) responsibilities for protecting significant natural areas and maintaining indigenous biodiversity. With current resourcing it is estimated to take 15 years to complete assessment of all 16 ecological districts.
The biodiversity programme involves a number of separate projects undertaken on behalf of various stakeholders including council. For example, the native habitats Tasman (NHT) project started in 2007, is a district wide survey of natural areas, mainly on private land, to assess the ecological significance of these areas and provide owners with ecological reports to assist with the land’s management. Participation by landowners is voluntary. As at 30 September 2014, 420 sites had been assessed and 353 reports delivered to owners.
Due to recent changes to government funding criteria (meaning the organisation no longer qualifies for funding) the biodiversity project may need council to increase its funding from $26,000 to $56,000. A submission on the LTP to this effect is anticipated by council.
In my opinion, given the lack of government financial support for biodiversity, and no National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (the 2010 draft remains on hold), that might have provided clarity for council’s in understanding the scope of their legal obligations, perhaps its timely to pause and take stock. This might mean no further funding is provided, so that the current programmes are undertaken at a slower pace than they are currently (if at all).
The manager’s report contained a number of topics. I intend to only summarise the more significant items that drew councilor interest. In particular; the coroner’s report, freedom camping, and the warmer healthier homes project.
I would have also liked to have commented on the department’s financial position, but this information was not provided in the agenda. An action item to respond to questions raised about last month’s financial’s (which highlighted several cost over-runs) was also over-looked. Hopefully these will be answered in due course.
During the week of 15-16 June 2013, the home of Ms Hude Hivon was struck by a landslide. The home was located on Seperation Point granite soils and the dwelling was authorised for construction in 1961 as worker’s accomodation. The coroner investigated the incident and has made two recommendations directed at TDC. First, that side castings are not deposited along the outer edge of tracks above steep slopes. Secondly, that TDC give consideration to at risk sites prior to any consent being awarded. These recommendations will form part of a review of the land disturbance rules which will occur in 2015.
Generally the rules have worked very well in the Tasman region. By way of brief background, freedom camping is a permitted activity for legal vehicles. However, it remains an illegal activity for non-compliant vehicles (eg, those offending vehicles that are not fully self contained).
Unfortunately, the Motueka beach reserve area continues to be an area of concern for many residents. The complaints are concerned with the occupants of illegal, non-self-contained camping vehicles (eg, vans without toilets, showers or washing facilities) using community facilities improperly and causing a general nuisance.
The main problem with the freedom camping by-law is enforcement. A major problem with the rules is proving someone camped illegally. At present this is established by visiting the site in the early evening and morning. Any offending vehicles present on both occasions are deemed to have been camping overnight illegally. To avoid being caught, offending vehicles either turn up late in the evening or leave early in the morning (or both). Council staff suggested increasing the time spent policing (at a cost of $15,000) to address the problem. Effectively asking for more resources.
The increase in enforcement costs did not get much support around the council table. Accordingly staff undertook to investigate other options and to report back to the committee.
Some councilors had argued for the area to be closed off completely, or for existing toilet facilities to be removed, and water to be switched off. However, it was pointed out that this would be an expensive exercise (more costs for council), and illegal campers would just move to another location and annoy other people.
In my opinion, council staff needed a mechanism to establish illegal camping more efficiently (ie involving less staff time – and therefore cost). This could be done by prohibiting specified vehicles (non-self contained camping vehicles) from being parked in the area between specific times (eg 9pm to 7am). The presence of a non-self-contained camping vehicle during this time might show sufficient intent to camp (and place the burden on the offender to prove otherwise). Officers could then appear an hour or so after the specified time and immediately issue tickets for both illegally parking and\or illegally camping. I also wondered if a pre-registration process (text your registration to council) would aid the process of identifying illegal freedom camping.
I look forward to the staff report that comes back with some more thought out (and less expensive) options.
Warmer healthier homes
Council has been involved in promoting better insulation and upgrading home heating through its Warm Tasman programme. However, with the expiration of government funding it is unlikely it will remain appealing to ratepayers and no doubt council will retire the programme.
An alternative programme established in 2004 is the “Warmer Healthier Homes” programme funded by the Canterbury Community Trust, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, Absolute Energy, and Nelson Tasman Housing Trust. However, this initiative is much more narrowly focused and only targets low income households with respiratory health concerns. NCC has recently joined the project through committing $40,000 over two years.
This council has decided to watch how the project unfolds, before making any financial commitment at this time. Especially when it remains unclear to what degree Tasman ratepayers would benefit. Staff will report back before the conclusion of the LTP.
Agenda and minutes
A copy of the agenda report 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/2015/2015-01-29.
Related newspaper items
The Environment and Planning Committee meeting was held on 27 February 2014. All councillors were present, with Cr Mirfin sending apologies for being unable to attend, due to work commitments.
The meeting agenda included: (1) Nelson airport’s management of shorebirds, (2) residential density project, (3) Richmond west plan change, (4) rural land use and subdivision, (5) freedom camping update, and (6) the manager’s report (including; the use of weirs as water storage solution, airport bird-strike protection measures, gravel extraction, and earthquake strengthening standards). The meeting also considered feedback on the recent “rural land use and subdivision policy” which will be made public and success of the new freedom camping rules. The session also involved confidential consideration of legal proceedings and private requests for zone changes (ie Foodstuffs and Network Tasman).
For the purposes of this post, I will just examine some of the key topics that received most of the council’s attention.
Several people were in attendance for the public forum. Unfortunately the period of time allocated to public forum is very short (3 minutes per person). But enough to make council aware of an issue or community feeling on an issue.
Paul Keown raised a question over the current rural subdivision policy which prevents land owners building additional small residences to enable at home care for those who live on rural land. He suggested greater flexibility was required around multiple dwellings for elder care.
Liz Thomas also spoke to this topic highlighting the growing grey wave appearing on the horizon that required more flexible planning and allowed land sharing.
Chris Laing spoke on the issue of affordable housing, highlighting development costs were to high, and suggesting that a more creative approach, that enabled cluster development, was required.
Richmond residential density projection
Council staff reported back on the recently held urban density forum (at which I had also participated). The report recommended that an advisory group be established and outlined the purpose and scope of such a group. For me the concern of advisory groups is one of staff support (and therefore costs to council, including opportunity costs, as staff get diverted from their current tasks).
From my own attendance at the urban density forum it became apparent to many at the forum that much of the urban density development that was happening was not due to developer participation. Rather, much of the increasing densification was coming from residents being able to subdivide existing properties and build a second home on them, either for their own retirement, or for sale. Major developers were more interested in large scale greenfield development. After all, this is where the higher financial gain lay. The concerns for developers were the costs associated with development and the degree of uncertainty that existed when entering the planning process. Providing certainty around costs and what could (and could not be done), would improve decision making and reduce costs. This invariably is a trade off between flexible rules and certainty. Overall developers appeared to favour certainty and lower costs.
In fact, I’m sure residents would prefer certainty as well, given the recent surprise of a commercial activity (ie a lifestyle village) being able to construct large multi-story buildings (some three stories high) on land designated for standard residential development. Especially, given earlier council statements in the recent urban density questionnaire that reassured residents that council would not allow multi-story buildings in high urban density areas. The actual words were “Council is not thinking about multi-level apartment buildings!”. Unfortunately another example of council saying one thing to residents, but providing rules that allow something else.
Whether an advisory group would provide anything more than what would come out of plan change hearings for revised urban density plans and rules was highly arguable. In my opinion, urban density development will happen when it is financially viable for developers. At present it is not. I also think that some developers have already realised that there is very little interest in widespread high density developments in Richmond. To be blunt, people don’t come to Richmond for the cramped Wellington city lifestyles. They come here to get away from that. Most people who live in Richmond come here for reasonably sized sections so their kids can enjoy them and the safe surroundings Richmond offers. It’s therefore no surprise that larger lifestyle blocks have begun to spring up out towards Redwood Valley and Mapua as sections in Richmond have begun to get smaller or less available. In my opinion, if Richmond wants high density residential development in the centre of the town (not the outer green fields) then it will need to provide the right economic incentives for the construction of such housing (so that its financially appealing to the purchaser), and also the lifestyle. In my mind, that requires much lower development costs in such areas, and much more defined rules about what can be done and what cannot, to avoid uncertainty and surprises for everyone. Until that happens, very little will happen.
However, after an impassioned speech by the mayor for the establishment of the group (and some other councillors), the majority of council considered there was merit in an advisory group. I am afraid I was not one of them and remain unconvinced. While I support urban density done well, I remain unconvinced another advisory group will add much more to what we already know. Its an additional cost we do not need. I suspect we will get nothing more in urban design knowledge and guidelines than what is already on offer in the UK and what we have already.
Cr Higgins was appointed the chair of the advisory group. The group’s term is fixed to just one year.
Of particular interest to myself was a “brief” report on the use of weirs as a water augmentation solution for the Waimea plains (page 69 at para [6.1]). This report came from requests from myself for more information on the use of weirs, due to a lack of any rigorous analysis being published in other reports from the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee (WWAC). In particular, the use of weirs as an alternative option, or used in conjunction with a dam, and their associated costs. Unfortunately, the report was very brief on any detail and detailed questioning of the report was derailed by the Mayor’s request to defer any detailed examination to a forthcoming workshop on water augmentation options before council. Accordingly, I highlight some points in the report with my own observations and questions.
First, the report notes that Tasman needs a solution that provides at least 13 million m3 litres of water. On further enquiry it appears, 13 million m3 of water is required to cater for drought security and growth (for Tasman and Nelson). Discounting this growth would reduce the amount needed for drought security to 9.2 million m3 of water. This seems a very large amount of water for what is a 2-3 month period of drought risk (that might happen every 10 years). When one considers that only 50% of the dam is being funded by irrigators, it would seem in my opinion, that the actual amount required for drought security for the Waimea plains is probably more likely to be 4.6 million m3 of water (or possibly less).
A weir of 1.0 metre height in the Waimea river (comprising 2.8 hectares of river) would provide approx 20,000 m3 litres of water. No information is provided for a higher weir or for multiple mixed height weirs. Secondly, the report acknowledges a combination of weirs and dams had not been specifically addressed by WWAC as they had found a solution that had met the desired water need (ie 13m m3 of water). Further, its states that installing downstream weirs at additional cost and no further benefit would not have been a realistic option. However, given no costings for a weir have been undertaken, its difficult to understand how such a conclusion could have been reached. I am left to assume that the TDC is aware of the cost of other weirs it has constructed, that have proved to be quite successful. So, perhaps some “very” rough comparison was made? Again this is not clear in the report. The report also points out that a 13.4 m3 dam was considered the most cost effective option even though the capital cost difference between a high and low dam was about $5 million. Again it is not clear how this comparison was made – as the cost of a dam is very much dependent on the thickness of its foundations. I would have thought a smaller dam required smaller foundations?
Overall, I found the report disappointingly brief given the importance of the issue and the level of interest in the use of weirs from the community. Especially when other topics of lesser importance received more attention (and words) in the report. It is very important that all councillors turn their minds adequately to all water augmentation options (including weirs) before deciding on a preferred solution. I intend to follow up this report with more questions and I invite the public to submit further questions as well, in order to aid councillors in their deliberations.
A report was requested on gravel extraction from rivers in the Tasman district. The report identified nine applications lodged since November 2011. It appears very few applications have been made for gravel extraction from the Motueka river.
A Bill before parliament seeks to reduce the threshold for determining if a building is earthquake prone from 67% to 34% of the national building standard. The bill aims to strike a balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake and managing the cost of strengthening or removing buildings. It is expected the Building (Earthquake-prone buildings) Amendment Bill 2013 will become law in 2015. See http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/legislation/bills/00DBHOH_BILL12960_1/building-earthquake-prone-buildings-amendment-bill.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2014/2014-02-27.
A full Council meeting was held on 5 December 2013. The agenda was substantial (taking over the allotted 6 hours to be considered) and comprised:
- public forum presentations;
- freedom camping rules;
- port Tarakohe proposal;
- appointment of directors;
- Murchison visitor centre proposal;
- regional tourism proposal;
- parking and other traffic restriction rules;
- Saxton field transmission lines;
- Kina peninsula boat shed proposal;
- Water storage (known as the lee valley dam) project issues;
- Brightwater domain deliberations;
- Chief Executive’s activity report; and
- replacement of the mayor’s car.
All councillors were in attendance.
To keep this post short, I have summarised below the main items that took up most of the councils time.
A number of submissions were received – most on the trans-pacific partnership agreement (TPPA) and Port Tarakohe.
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Having received a number of public submissions on the TPPA council resolved to ask that staff report back briefly on the public’s draft resolution so that it might be considered at the next full council meeting. By way of background, the previous Council had already passed a very short resolution in September 2013 (see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2013/2013-09-19) which was followed by a letter from council to the Minister of Trade (a copy enclosed in the agenda at p 309). However, the proposed draft resolution put before council proposed using similar wording as used by the Auckland and Nelson councils resolutions.
The Auckland council resolution (item 26) can be found at:
- http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Auckland-City-resolution.pdf; or
The reports and presentations that gave rise to that Auckland council resolution can be found at (item 26, pp 385-419):
The Nelson council resolution and minutes can be found at:
Council decided to direct staff to report back at the next full council meeting on the draft resolution’s consistency with the Auckland and Nelson resolutions, so that it could consider whether it wanted to pass a more though resolution.
Since then, Greater Wellington Regional (GWR) council has also passed a resolution (dated 12 December 2013) on the TPPA (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/9513659/Council-wades-into-trade-debate). It is noted that the proposed resolution (http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/council-reports/Report_PDFs/13.1049.pdf) and final resolution (reproduced below) were much shorter than the Auckland and Nelson resolutions. The final GWR resolution (dated 12 December 2013) states:
“That the Council expresses concern at the lack of information available on the potential implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement for New Zealand and for local government and, while accepting that treaty negotiations are general confidential:
1: Notes public reports that the New Zealand negotiators, along with those from other like-minded countries, do not agree with a number of proposed measures including those pertaining to pharmaceuticals, intellectual property protection and environmental measures;
2: Notes that the TPP, as with all trade agreements, will go through the full parliamentary process and, once that is complete, any law changes necessary to ensure New Zealand’s compliance with the treaty must be passed by parliament; and
3: Urges the Government to instruct its negotiating team to continue to oppose measures that would have unjustifiable negative impact on the ability of local government to make decisions on a range of options including procurement that are currently available under New Zealand law.”
For information on the process of adopting a treaty into New Zealand law (see http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Treaties-and-International-Law/03-Treaty-making-process, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1212/S00035/treaty-making-101-for-ministers-bloggers-and-lobbyists.htm, http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/50HansQ_20131210_00000008/8-trans-pacific-partnership—release-of-information, http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/50HansQ_20131211_00000005/5-trans-pacific-partnership%E2%80%94ratification-process, http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/1996/05/Publication_38_101_R34.pdf).
For a recent update on the TTPA see http://werewolf.co.nz/2013/12/tpp-all-cards-on-the-table/
I’ve spoken to this topic in an earlier post. Essentially Tasman now has two freedom camping bylaws. One governed by the Local Government Act (LGA) and now another governed by the new Freedom Camping Act. Designated areas in Motueka have been selected for coverage by the new bylaw as empowered under the Freedom Camping Act. Other proposed areas (for example, Liga Bay) will continue to be controlled by the older bylaw empowered under the LGA, as is most of Tasman District. Council will be monitoring the application of the new bylaw to gauge its success and whether further role out is warranted (if at all).
This was a controversial proposal. The premise for the proposal was the removal of financial support from the general rates so that users of the port were paying for its ongoing operation, rather than ratepayers. In order to do this charges for using the port would have to be increased to make it self sustaining. The port is used by recreational users and commercial fishers (mainly mussel farmers). After, what I consider to be, a very brief consultation period (given its complexity and magnitude), it was decided that the original proposal would be softened. In effect, the impact of the proposed charges would be spread over a longer term (ie the charges would progressively be stepped up over a five year period) producing a working capital surplus by year 5 of nearly $300,000.
During council discussions I had asked staff if the projected working capital could adopt a zero surplus position (in effect reducing the charges so no working capital was accumulated). However, I was advised that without sufficient working capital no improvements to facilities or services on the wharf could be made (and this had been requested by community board members and some councillors).
I believe that council and the Golden Bay community still need to come up with a longer term strategy for the port to be sustainable. The real issue is the amount of business that the port generates (or does not generate). If there was more business going across the wharf, then there would be less pressure to increase port charges. In my opinion, if products (like milk) were able to use the port for shipping product to and from Golden Bay, rather than being trucked over the hill (causing road repair costs for the community), then the port (and our roads) might be in safer hands. The challenge is to make shipping a cost effective option. It might also be suggested that business activity around the port could be increased by providing the right incentives for new port businesses to be established and grow.
Tourism is another significant issue for Tasman. It is also a multi-faceted issue that essentially involves two layers of tourism promotion. First, there is promotion (usually the provision of information) from visitor centres within the region. This is the most visible form of tourism that ratepayers might experience or see themselves. Secondly, there is the promotion of Tasman to the outside world – both domestically and internationally. This type of destination promotion is pitched at attracting people to the region, rather than giving them information once they are here.
At present, tourism for Nelson and Tasman is managed by a company called Nelson-Tasman Tourism Ltd (NTT) that is jointly owned by the Nelson and Tasman councils. NTT operate a number of licensed “i-sites” (effectively branded visitor information centres) across both Nelson and Tasman. The most used and most visible being the Nelson “i-site”.
As part of NTT’s review of its operations, it proposed to close down two loss making “i-sites” – namely the Golden Bay and Murchison “i-sites”. At this point, its worth noting that a separate proposal for the continuation of a visitor centre in Murchison was also considered by council. In effect, the proposal sought to provide a visitor centre as part of a single central service hub that would be housed in a common building with other council services (for example, the council services centre). The recommendation was that a visitor centre needed to be on the main road. However, this is open to debate, as effective signage on the main road that points to a side road, only a short distance away, might be just as effective. It’s only when the journey from the signage to the visitor centre is more convoluted, that a presence on a main road is required. In Murchison, there is no danger of the journey being very long, as there are only a few side streets off the main highway through Murchison.
In terms of visitor centres, I am of the opinion that a single central service hub for visitor centres is the way to go. This would mean that NTT would not be required to manage visitor centres and council would directly fund them. A shared service hub, be it with other council services or the Department of Conservation (DOC) should provide cost savings, both from shared building space and shared staff. For example, in Motueka, a visitor centre could be part of the Motueka library. Similarly, a visitor centre could be part of the Richmond library or Golden Bay library. This would enable visitors to have access to computers to make bookings, as well as have access to library staff who can point them to the relevant resources. I should add, that this would not mean that the Richmond visitor centre on Gladstone Road would be abandoned (as its incredibly cost effective due to being run by volunteers), but rather tourism could be run from the Richmond library as well, for very little additional expenditure.
Bringing all visitor centres under the direct control of council is the direction that is being pursued. And I agree with that direction, provided it delivers cost savings. This would mean that half of NTT’s function (and funding) would no longer be required and that funding would be redirected away from NTT and back to council. Whether council wish to withdraw from the second function of NTT (the promotion of Tasman as a destination) is still open to debate. Certainly the resolution that was passed by council invited further consultation on the issue, although it also made it clear to NTT, that council was considering withdrawing all funding of NTT for destination tourism. To make it absolutely clear, the council has yet to make that decision.
At this point its also worth considering the council commissioned report from OPUS. That report examined NTT’s role and suggested that it merge with another agency – the Economic Development Agency (EDA). Whether that is a well thought out proposal is hard to gauge at first glance as there was very little in terms of evidence in the report to suggest where the efficiencies and cost savings were from such a merger.
In my opinion, Tasman still requires investment in destination tourism. The question is what entity is best suited to provide that service. Is it NTT or is it another entity. Of course there is also another question tied up with this issue, which is funding. Who should be funding destination tourism – ratepayers or business? In my opinion, if council is funding visitor centres, then from a position of consistency, council should also be funding destination tourism. Lets not forget, businesses also pay rates.
So what was decided. First, council approved ongoing funding of NTT for the 2014-15 year at a maximum level of $426,000 (which is what Nelson council recently agreed). Second, council undertook to directly fund all visitor information centres in the region for the 2014-15 year (and correspondingly reduce NTT funding to a maximum level of $170,000). Thirdly, council sought, as part of its consultation over the 2015-25 long term plan, consideration of a proposal to withdraw all funding of NTT. Whether this proposal is adopted has yet to be decided. Fourthly, council agreed to consider the Murchison proposal to merge visitor information and council services centres into a single hub. Finally, council requested that financial proposals for Motueka, Golden Bay, and Murchison visitor information be completed by 31 January 2014, so they could be assessed.
See also http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9518177/Tourism-body-threatened, http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9489922/TDC-set-to-pull-the-plug-on-tourism-bodys-funding, http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/opinion/9498567/Editorial-Fine-tourism-line-for-Tasman, http://www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz/council/news/recent-media-releases-and-news/council-commitment-to-tourism-remains.
Water Storage – The Lee Valley Dam
Council were also briefed on the processes and requirements council could be expected to follow when considering any future water storage proposal. As part of that discussion the chief executive had devised a memorandum of understanding with the key players to date. Namely the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee (WWAC) and a proposed holding company (Dam Co) that would be established by the WWAC. Dam Co would be used to apply for the various resource consents required for any water storage solution. Council was advised that wrap-around legal documentation with Dam Co, securing various property interests and rights for council, would be entered into between Dam Co and the council.
In my opinion, council should be establishing its own holding company, rather than using a privately owned entity, regardless of the legal protections council might put in place. This is because it shows to the public that no ownership outcomes have been pre-determined and avoids the need for unnecessary legal complexities. As history shows, complexity is the father of unforeseen surprises and this is not a project where we need surprises.
Appointments – Director of Airport
The council resolved to appoint Cr Edgar as a council appointed director of the airport. Cr Edgar holds a number of chair positions on council committees and is an experienced councillor. Readers of this blog will also remember that Cr Edgar was also nominated for deputy mayor at the first council meeting, which she subsequently declined to accept (see earlier post).
Agenda and Minutes
A copy of the agenda an minutes of this meeting can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2013/2013-12-05
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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).
This was a busy week. And hence the lateness of these posts.
Busy because on 15 November I attended two public hearings relating to Freedom Camping and Psychoactive Substances, followed by a further hearing from 18-20 November in relation to the Olive Estate lifestyle development, followed by the Engineering Services committee and Urban Design Forum meetings on 21 November.
I won’t dwell on any of the hearings apart from making one observation in respect of the Freedom Camping debate. It became apparent very early on in the hearing that there was a great deal of confusion surrounding the council’s proposal to change the Freedom Camping rules. Confusion because there appeared to be a feeling from those attending the hearing that the council was removing the freedom camping rules, when in fact it was replacing them with new rules that provided for a far higher level of enforcement.
Engineering Services Committee
The Engineering Services Committee meeting was held on 21 November. Apologies for not attending this meeting were received from Cr Higgins and Cr Edgar.
Similar to the Community development meeting held the previous week, there were a number of reports submitted to council requiring no decision. These reports are interesting in that they show the wide level of activity that the council is involved in.
A public forum was also held. Maxwell Clarke raised concerns over council’s debt level and suggested some projects including the proposed water storage project (known as the lee valley dam) should be delayed beyond the long term plan. Concerns over the closure of the Richmond reuse shop were also raised.
The agenda for this meeting comprised a number of reports and issues including: (1) the designation of Whitwell’s car park in Motueka (which is owned by Wakatu Incorporation and leased to Whitwell Holdings Ltd), (2) the Motueka flood control project (which I will discuss below), (3) the engineering departments procurement strategy and process (eg, for tendering out roading work), (4) appointment of councillors to water supply committees and working parties, (5) the recent past and future planned activities of the engineering department, (6) Jackett Island’s erosion problem and the proposed long term solution, (7) Mapua wharf’s maintenance issues, (8) the Riwaka flood bank, (9) LED street lighting trial (occurring in Norman Andrews Place in Richmond), and (10) a confidential session in relation to the potential purchase of land (or not) in relation to Warring car park.
Motueka Flood Control Project
The Motueka flood control project has been and continues to be a big issue for Motueka. As Cr Canton pointed out at the meeting, many councillors during the election had voiced their support for the project and the flooding concerns of residents. As I have stated in earlier posts on this blog, council need to seriously start reviewing spending decisions.
The financial cost of the project can best be summarised as follows. The Long Term Plan (the 2012-22, 10 year LTP) estimated the Motueka flood protection project would cost $5million (which was a reduction of the original $10.5 million that was originally estimated), with $700,00 budgeted for 2013-14 to progress consent and design works. To date, $632,000 had been raised from loans and spent on feasibility and investigation costs.
While $632,000 had already been spent, those funds had contributed to more accurate modelling that had indicated that flooding from breaches in the stop bank caused by saturation in a 1-in-100 year rain event, would not be as extensive as previously assumed. New modelling suggested that there would be less area flooded and the height of potential flooding in the township would not be high (at best 10cm high). The revised modelling also indicated that the river flooding risk of Motueka township was small for a stop bank breach scenario. Further, those areas that would be most hit by flooding, were more likely to have been flooded because of coastal inundation, than stop bank failure. Thus, investment in preventing stop bank failure to prevent flooding in a severe weather event might be a waste of money, as coastal inundation would still occur, resulting in those areas still being flooded.
There was also the risk that $5 million of stop bank strengthening work might not have fully prevented stop bank failure over the whole of the stop bank. In effect, a breach might have occurred in an area of the stop bank that was not subject to any strengthening work, thus making any strengthening work useless. This is not a strong argument in itself (as council had enabled this argument to be made by not fully funding the project to the tune of $10.5 million, so that all of the stop bank could be strengthened), but it is one to be taken into the mix, when considering if it is worthwhile to continue with a $5 million project.
On the basis of the revised modelling which showed less overall impact, the impact of costal inundation (which was outside of the projects control), and the fact a half baked strengthening project might not prevent a stop bank breach, I agreed with the council staff’s recommendation not to proceed with the project as proposed in the LTP. The benefit (flood protection) just was not there, for the costs involved.
I imagine on principle, Cr Canton objected to the recommendation on the basis of his campaign position. All other councillors present supported the removal of the projects future cost to the ratepayer. I felt that this was a good outcome and perhaps the tide was beginning to turn. Was the message of debt reduction and keeping rates down getting through. If there was any hesitation about the tide of decision making on council, it was the fact that councillors had not actually taken the initiative themselves, but instead had relied on council staff to promote the obvious cost saving measure to them. My impression to date is that council tend to support staff recommendations and are hesitant to challenge the information and recommended decision placed in front of them.
On this decision I give council 6/10. Improving, but someway to go yet. Especially given council’s reluctance to defer investigative spending on the Golden Bay community centre (see earlier post) until after we have decided owe want to commit to such a project, and future decisions on investment on entertainment events (Council should be enabling and facilitating these events, not bank rolling them).
In regard to the procurement processes of the engineering department, my only observation is that council need to be benchmarking their processes against other councils to ensure we are not outside normal practices. Its also an opportunity to take onboard best practices that might appear from looking at how others conduct procurement. It appeared that council staff thought this was possibly a good idea and undertook to further investigate such an opportunity.
Water Supply Committee and Working Party Appointments
The following appointments (recommended by council staff on the basis of locality) were made:
- Dovedale rural water supply committee: Cr Norriss
- Eighty-Eight Valley rural water supply committee: Cr King
- Redwoods rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
- Hamama rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
- Wa-iti Valley community dam users group: Cr King and Cr Higgins
- Wakefield water and Eighty-Eight Valley rural water working group: Cr King and Cr Bryant
- Takaka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Bouillir, Cr Sangster, and Golden Bay Community Board members.
- Motueka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Dowler, Cr Canton, Cr Inglis, and Motueka Community Board members.
- Joint waste minimisation and management plan working group: Cr Bryant, Cr Edgar, and Cr Dowler.
The engineering department reported on a number of interesting activities. These included:
- Staff restructure: A recent restructuring that increased full-time staff levels from 21 to 39 staff (increasing staff by 18 with a corresponding increase in wages by just over $1 million). This was the result of bringing in staff to undertake work that had in the past been contracted out in order to make substantial planned savings and service level improvements.
- Refuse waste: The operation of the Richmond refuse shop is under review after the Kahurangi Employment Trust advised the Council that it did not wish to continue after the council proposed increasing the lease costs of the refuse shop from a peppercorn rental to a more commercial rate. Recent increases in refuse (31% increase in commercial refuse and 19% increase in residential refuse since last year) and a shortage of waste transport bins has led to difficulty in processing and transporting waste. There have been increases in construction and demolition waste from outside of Richmond.
- Roading: Slip repairs from June 2013 are ongoing. An innovative bush layer wall system is being trailed at the Riwaka-Sandy Bay Road. Bridge pier protection at Hoult Valley Road West is progressing. Fonterra has been given “temporary” approval by NZTA to increase their standard tanker loading. Some intersections may require seal widening to accommodate these larger vehicles. This work is being added to the minor improvements work list. Brooklyn Valley road work is ongoing. Drainage and culvert repair and maintenance work is ongoing on Dry Road and Cowin Road. Road widening (via bank cutting and binding) is to be completed during November to ensure vehicles are kept away from an under slip. A bridge approach sealing program is being devised which will include a number of golden bay bridges and will be added to the Pohara Road widening work project to improve cost efficiencies. Matiiri Valley Road (Murchison) has had 6 culverts replaced with another 4 culverts yet to be replaced.
- Cleaning: Richmond town centre’s sundial square’s pavers are to be cleaned before Christmas. I had to question this work as the square looked tidy to me and seemed an unnecessary non-urgent expense. Especially if the area might be affected by future Queen Street road works. It seemed to me that, that was the time to clean up the square.
- Rivers: The Riwaka River required emergency repairs arising from erosion threatening the stop banks during the June floods (being a 1-in-17 year flood event). The Shaggery River (or Old West Bank channel) leo required emergency work. The June flood also affected the Dove River widening the river channel in places as well as depositing large amounts of gravel above some of the bridges. A greater focus on stop bank maintenance is continuing with further work planned. Council staff are working with landowners to remove gravel. However, to progress gravel extraction future consent hearings may have to be held.
- Road safety: From 1 November 2013, the law regarding child restraints changed. Children up to 7 years (formerly 5 years) must be restrained in an approved child restraint (see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/2669/news.html).
- Richmond town centre: A draft richmond town centre framework (December 2012, revised January 2013) has been prepared outlining possible future development of the Richmond town centre. A Project Board will be established to bring together various storm water, wastewater and water improvements, land use and parking rules to ensure an integrated approach. The project will aim to up upgrade underground utilities and improve traffic and parking management.
- Work still to be completed for 2013-14 (ie, up to June 2014): Reservoir creek dam – new spillway ($431,201), Rewika-Kaiterteri road realignment ($1,170,329), champion road culvert upgrade ($500,000), remediation of slips along Abel Tasman drive ($2,078,278), Richmond reservoir work ($2,613,737), Water meter replacements ($641,196), Talbot Street and Valhalla Drive water pipe upgrades ($371,900), and Clifton sewer upgrade ($1,020,737).
A groyne was installed on the Motueka Spit by the Council in 1996. The Environment Court held that erosion on Jackett Island was caused by the groyne. The Motueka groyne was removed in October 2012. The parties subsequently agreed to a cut through the Motueka spit. While the location of the spit has been agreed, the design (and cost) of the Spit remains outstanding. A decision from the Environment Court for a long term solution is expected soon. The aim of the cut is to reduce water flows and hence erosion forces together with sand replenishment on the Jackett Island foreshore. Damage (caused by September 2013 storms) to the sand bag wall has meant remedial work (of $80,000) was required to be undertaken by the Council.
A fire on 1 August 2013 caused fire damage to the Mapua Wharf. A structural inspection identified a number of joists and piles underneath the wharf required urgent remedial work. The work is expected to cost $13,000 (plus GST) and will come from existing council funds. The inspection highlighted several medium-rem structural issues that require future attention. Approximately $15,000 every two years is required for this work.
Links to agenda and minutes
A copy of the engineering services committee agenda and minutes can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2013/2013-11-21.