Tagged: Water quality

Environment committee meeting (17 March)

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

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.

Protected trees

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).

Building control

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).

20160317-p49

Regulatory compliance

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.

Chairs report

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.

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Environment and planning (19 November)

Environment and planning (19 November)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 19 November 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Edgar. All councillors were in attendance (with Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster arriving late from their drive over the Takaka hill).

Cr Mirfin noted that the minutes from the last meeting were “a bit light”. I certainly share this concern. This is also a growing concern for a number of residents who show an interest in issues that council debates.

The agenda included: (1) national policy statement freshwater management, (2) private plan change for Wainui Bay (spat catching), (3) Alcohol licensing costs, (4) Food Act, (5) Annual Biodiversity report, (6) environment and planning services activity report, and (7) the chairs report. There were no public forum presentations. Much of the meeting was deciding to receive reports and approve public notification of them. I intend to highlight the main topics of interest.

A confidential (in committee) session was also held in relation to: (1) proposed rural land use subdivision plan change, and (2) building claim settlement. Workshops followed.

National policy statement freshwater management

The Freshwater Management national policy statement (NPS) was first introduced in 2011 and amended in 2014. The Freshwater Management NPS is being progressively implemented with full implementation by 2030. The work programme includes: completion of water allocation and flow management for the Waimea Plains water management zones, establishing community based advisory groups (FLAG groups) to develop water quality and quantity management provisions for Takaka and the Waimea Plains, scoping a land disturbance review )sediment and erosion control guidelines), and mapping of all wetlands.

Concerns were raised about the cost (and progress) of the FLAG groups. Some wondered if it was more cost effective (and timely) to just drive the process through public consultation, rather than engage stakeholders through the FLAG groups. While there was some merit in upfront timeliness, there was always the risk of downstream costs arising through appeal processes.

From my own experience, it is much more efficient to engage (and address issues) before going over the cliff edge, than addressing them on beach (under pressure). It also provides greater community engagement and transparency, as its all on the web to read (see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/water/water-resource-management/water-catchment-management/water-management-partnerships-flags/). That said, it is incumbent on staff to ensure delivery expectations are met and any slippage (or scope creep) is avoided. Which is always hard when dealing with unpaid stakeholders.

Wainui Bay mussel spat catching

Wainui Bay mussel spat catching farms are considered nationally and regionally significant for quality and quantity of mussel spat. The private proposal seeks to extend the current resource consent in Wainui Bay beyond 2024, in order to provide commercial certainty. Council resolved to notify the public of the proposed plan change. The proposal is located on the councils webpage at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-11-19/PrivatePlanChangeRequestWainuiBaySpatCatching.

Alcohol licensing costs

Council is required by law to publicly report the costs of providing alcohol licensing (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012). Alcohol charges are set by statute (and regulation). Council is authorised to make bylaws for fee setting (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fee-setting Bylaws) Order 2013), but has chosen to adopt by default the national regulation (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013). This is because it is considered that establishing a bylaw would be a “significant cost” and council is better to just adopt the fees in the regulations.

In my opinion, the fee setting in the regulations could do with some serious fine tuning. Clubs and community events are given higher risk ratings than perhaps seems justifiable and this results in higher fees for these activities. If there is a trade off in the risk rating process, it needs to be for activities that have resulted in public nuisances or offences. This would incentivise greater compliance, or risk ratings and higher fees. Another anomaly is the treatment of online sales. This is something that the government needs to urgently review. Online sales need to be given a separate classification and risk rating in the regulations.

Period: 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015

Total fees received: $197,946.00
Portion of fees passed to central government agency (ARLA) $13,970.00
Fees retained by council $183,976.00
Cost of administration $101,232.27
Cost of inspections $236,070.58
Cost of enforcement $5,5179.66
Total cost to council $342,482.51

Subsidisation by council is: 54% user pays and 46% rates funded. Staff aim to reduce the subsidation ratio to 60:40 through streamlining processes.

Interestingly, Ministry of Justice civil and constitutional unit general manager David King is reported as saying that the reforms aimed to improve New Zealand’s drinking culture and reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking. Mr King stated that:

The new system fairly reflects the cost of alcohol licensing . . . [it] aims to ensure licensing costs are met by the alcohol industry rather than ratepayers, who currently subsidise about 50 per cent, $5.4 million a year, of the system.

Empirical evidence (from Tasman) would suggest that the regulations still result in cross subsidisation of 50% or more. Perhaps its time for the Ministry of Justice to review if the regulations are working?

Food Act 2014 – new regulatory process

The new Food Act 2014 is soon to come into force. The Act provides for the council to provide registration and verification functions (from 1 March 2016). Similar to the Supply of Alcohol Regulations, the Food Act places food businesses into different risk categories which are then to operate under different regulatory controls.

The new feature of the Act is the separation of the registration function from the verification (audit and inspection) function. Only the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and territorial authorities (like TDC) will be able to register food businesses. No change here.

However, verification is being opened to the private sector. This means verification functions can be provided by TDC, or an approved provider (like AsureQuality). Food businesses will either develop their own food control plans or be part of a registered national programme. Most small food businesses will fall under a registered national programme. At this time, there have been no draft templates or examples of national programmes. However, there is nothing stopping a business developing and submitting their own food control plans.

All private providers will have to apply for verification status. TDC is deemed to hold verification status for verifying “food control plans”. However, council will not have deemed verification status for verifying “national programmes”. Instead, TDC will have to apply (like private providers) to MPI for approval and show it has met all regulatory requirements (like a documented quality management system).

The total cost of acquiring approver status has not been determined by MPI yet. Estimated costs are $193.75 plus $155 per hour to process the application. The amount of time to process an application has yet to be disclosed. Staff anticipate that developing a documented quality management system will involve substantial staff time (and cost).

Council resolved not to provide a verification function given the uncertainties and potential cost. In my opinion, it seems strange to deem verification status for councils in relation to food control plans, but not national programmes (where there is likely to be cookie cutter approach).

I would have thought if councils are deemed to be able to verify high risk activities they should also be deemed to verify lower risk activities? The distinction makes no sense, other than it requires councils to incur additional costs. Surely if the council is good enough to verify a high risk activity, it is more than capable of verifying a lower risk activity? Basically, council should be deemed to provide verification services for both food control plans and national programmes. If councils do not offer verification services for small business, the private sector will (in the short term) take advantage and charge higher prices for verification services – hardly business friendly.

Interestingly, MPI’s response to the distinction (from my own enquiries) is that:

Businesses that will be required to operate under a national programme include a large variety of manufacturers that a number of TAs [territorial authorities] have not been working with so it not appropriate to provide automatic recognition to TAs to verify these businesses.”

Adding that:

MPI is considering further the recognition process for TAs that may wish to verify retailers that operate under national programmes and will provide more information to TAs in the near future.

It also concerns me that a new Act is about to come into force and a lot of administrative issues are still being resolved by MPI. This is most unsatisfactory. Especially for councils, who are very conscious of additional financial burdens being placed on them by central government. How can councils be expected to plan for the future if relevant financial information (like fees and costs) have not be resolved by MPI. Again, this is a serious issue that government need to review.

Interestingly, MPI’s response (to my enquiries) is that:

MPI is currently working on the assessment process for councils and other agencies to become recognised to verify businesses under the Act. At this stage we are unable to say how long will take, and therefore what the final cost will be. … we hope to send this information to councils before the end of the year. One of the reasons for this is that we are currently looking into ways that the recognition process could be simplified for councils wishing to verify national programme businesses that they currently inspect under the Food Hygiene Regulations (as mentioned). Councils are automatically recognised to verify template food control plans, so will only need to apply for recognition to verify national programme businesses or custom food control plans.

I will be watching with interest to see how this plays out.

Check out the MPI overview of the new Food Act and compliance tool at www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-act-2014/overview/.

Annual Biodiviersity report

This was an information only report. Generally, council’s biodiversity programme is focused generating reports on lowland ecosystems, mostly located on private land. And involves a district wide survey of natural areas outside of the conservation estate to assess the ecological significance of these areas. The reports are provided to landowners to assist in management of the identified sites. As at 30 September 2015, 469 sites had been inspected with 309 reports generated. Many reports have been used as reference documents when considering planning applications, and policy reviews. Landowners (farming or forestry) have also used them for funding applications for pest control and restoration planting.

Council obtained central government funding ($26,000 per year) through to June 2017, but will be fully funding this work from July 2017 (due to an absence of any external funding). Current costs are $62,000 per year and are planned to reduce to $56,500 from July 2017. It is expected that the remaining ten ecological districts will be completed within the next 10-12 years.

Environment services activity report

Highlights from the managers report include:

  • Shop trading hours. Local authorities will have the ability to put in place a bylaw allowing trading on Easter Sunday. Essentially, the political issue (and cost of consultation) has been shifted to local government. While this delegates the decision making to the regions, it comes at a cost. Ideally, government would have also provided the financial support to implement this shift in decision making.
  • Hearing delegation. Council resolved to appoint a commissioner to hear the proposed Waimea water management plan change and make recommendations to council. This allows council to rehear the matter if it disagrees with all or any part of the recommendations. The council could appoint the commissioner to hear and “decide” the matter. If it did this it could not revisit the decision. From my experience, there appears very little practical difference. Most councilors are reluctant to revisit recommendations due to the cost of a rehearing. Nor are they keen to engage with the affected parties to mediate any compromise over issues that council might disagree with.
  • Building consent fees. The consents team incurred a deficit of $41,661 due to additional costs in meeting statutory timeframes from resource shortages. The increase should address this shortfall. Comparatively, TDC fees will still be lower than Nelson or Marlborough councils. For example, a single story dwelling will now cost $3,394 in Tasman, $3,900 in nelson, and $4,070 in Marlborough. For work below a value of $50,000, fees are now similar.
  • Richmond CBD. The Richmond town centre project was separated into (1) the stormwater upgrade and reinstatement project, and (2) urban density and design (and parking standards review) project. Richmond councillors were delegated with reviewing associated documentation in relation to urban density project. Unfortunately, staff and I were not in full agreement (at our subsequent meeting) on what needed to go into the consultation documents. I had hoped for a map, to show the areas of possible effect (perhaps showing different walking distances). Something that would grab the attention of the public when they were skimming the document. In my opinion, a map would easily let ratepayers know what areas might be affected – and if they might be affected. Instead staff wanted to use text (eg “within 10 minutes walk of the CBD”). Staff reasoned (based on some external advice) that a map indicating walking distances might generate a negative reaction. After some discussion, a compromise was reached to display a map at public presentations (ie at the Mall and Library), rather than on the consultation documents. In my opinion, staff need to be more courageous and transparent – and less scared of receiving negative reactions from the public. The public are pretty smart, and if it’s a good story, will be supportive. It’s about having an honest and upfront culture.
  • Financials. Generally, expenses are operating within budget and income is ahead. In response to my query about the extra wage related and overhead costs, staff advised that it was due to staff working longer hours (and charging extra fees).
  • Rainfall. Total accumulated rainfall appears to be lagging the average. Either, there’s a big rainfall coming, or its getting dryer.

20151119EP-Rainfall-p78

Chairs reports

Cr Bryant advised that a second steering group meeting on a shared “Land Development Manual” was held on 21 October 2015. In his opinion, there are ongoing challenges (and some unresolved matters) to align the engineering standards for Tasman and Nelson. However, he was optimistic of a positive outcome for both councils.

In my opinion, the winners of this process will be both developers and ratepayers – by making it easier and more cost effective for everyone to comply with one set of common standards – certainty should increase and costs decline. This is also another example of a commitment towards a “shared” approach to local government issues.

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/2015/2015-11-19.

Media

Nelson Mail (15 December 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/75082540/Tasman-District-Council-to-increase-building-consent-fees

Nelson Mail (25 November 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/aquaculture/74386525/Wainui-Bay-spat-catching-farms-seek-certainty-with-private-plan-change-request

Nelson Mail (29 October 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/73338768/Community-input-into-Queen-St-design

Nelson Mail (20 January 2016) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/76363857/richmonds-queen-st-carriageway-in-for-a-full-remake-tdc-says

Nelson Live! (19 February 2016) www.nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2016/02/interest-in-queen-st-makeover/

Dominion Post (1 March 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9777663/Small-clubs-say-new-laws-on-liquor-hitting-hard

 

 

Environment committee meeting (8 October)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 8 October 2015. All councillors were present (Crs Bouillir, Edgar, and King arriving late), with apologies from the mayor.

The agenda items included: (1) residential density project, (2) residential building coverage, (3) annual bio-security (pest management) report, (4) coastal settlements groundwater survey report, (5) Ruataniwha and Motupipi estuary report, (6) river water quality report, and (7) environment and planning activity report (manager’s report).

I will summarise the topics that received the most discussion.

A confidential session was also held (before considering the above agenda items) to consider the proposed Brightwater plan change. The meeting was followed by a short workshop on the Golden Bay recreation facility building.

Public forum

The public forum received three presentations from Ray Hellyer, Max Clarke, and Max Rogers.

Ray Hellyer has appeared before the council before in relation to aircraft and resource consent matters. He raised his concerns over matters noted in a resource consent report (which he thought should be omitted) and the cost of the consents process (ie unnecessary meetings and peer review costs).

In response to Ray’s presentation, I am of the opinion that the consents process (and costs) is something in need of further review and improvement.

Max Clarke spoke about the Dam. He asked why a copy of the Beca report (which was commissioned to re-appraise the Dam price) had not been made public yet. He also asked if council had received the irrigators business model proposal (which the mayor had suggested at a Nelson Chamber of Commerce meeting in August, would be available soon), and when it would be made public.

Max also suggested that there was little support on the plains for the dam, because many cannot afford it. He stated that a WCDL representative (Nick Paterson) had told a farmer that they would have to contribute $1.3 million based on the size of their farm. Apparently the farmer did not sign up.

Max emphasised that it was time for the promoters of WCDL to “show us the money” after all, the promoters had constantly reminded everyone during the hearings how much money they generated. He also questioned if WCDL complied with the solvency test (under the Companies Act).

Max also opposed Plan Change 54 to 56, which he considered was “nothing short of blackmail”. He also asked if councillors had seen or read the document authored by Ron Heath that was sent to the CEO and mayor, or Fred diCenzo’s report (that referred to weirs), that was authored while he was employed at TDC. Max stated that these documents suggest that, through the use of weirs, the aquifers were able to store the water needs of the irrigators without a dam.

Max Rogers briefly addressed council, clarifying Max Clarke’s observations in relation to Fred diCenzo’s report.

In response to Max’s 3 main questions:

1. Reports. I have asked staff to locate and provide councillors copies of the reports and documents referred too above. At the time of publishing this post, staff were still attempting to locate all these documents. However, I have received Ron Heath’s presentation and the staff’s response to the questions Ron raised.

2. The Beca report. Councils approach to dam costing is to use a P95 approach, whereas WCDL appear to favour a P50 approach. The previous estimate of roughly $40 million for the dam (which the previous council had used) was a P50 price estimate. A P50 estimate means that there would be a 50% chance that the price came in at that estimate. And a 50% chance it would exceed that price. In contrast, a P95 approach means that there would be a 95% chance that the price would not exceed the estimate. And a 5% chance that it would exceed the estimate. The shift from a P50 to P95 estimate also saw the estimated price of the Dam move from $42 million to $75 million. In my opinion, any price review is unlikely to drift far from this estimated P95 price.

Council’s new approach to Dam costings is to adopt a very prudent approach to spending public funds that ensures that any risk of cost overruns are minimised. This is probably contrary to the approach of business, who might be prepared to take on more risk. However, if WCDL want council to be a financial investor in the dam, then they have to realise that use of public funds comes with such conditions.

Council is also in the difficult position of having to hold back on the public release of some documents (or selected content of some documents) in order not to compromise any future potential procurement process. Council needs to ensure that it will get the very best price – should the dam proceed. Again, this is all part of acting as a prudent manager of public funds. For myself, who likes to be transparent, this is always a difficult tight rope to walk.

However, councillors are regularly challenging any non-disclosure. I (and some other councillors), continue to ask for documents to be publicly released, so that staff have to justify any withholding of documents. This ensures documents will be released to the public as soon as it is prudent to do so.

3. Plan change 54 to 56. The essence of this plan change is to ensure there is no free riding from an enhanced water supply. The default position from earlier plan changes (if there is no dam) is that thresholds for water restrictions will begin earlier than before. Plan Change 54 to 56 provides that the restriction thresholds for dam funders will apply in a manner that allows them to obtain the water that they have flushed down the river from the dam (when restrictions have already been triggered).

In effect, the threshold for water restrictions will trigger at a later stage for funders, than non-funders. For that reason I cannot agree that it is blackmail or some form of funding coercion. Those who do not fund the dam, should be in no worse a position, than had a dam not been constructed. That is the fundamental premise of the plan change. My challenge to those who object to this plan change is to show where (and how) the rules do not meet this fundamental premise.

Submissions on the plan change will close shortly on 19 October 2015. Information on the plan change is located at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/plans/tasman-resource-management-plan/current-plan-change-projects/proposed-changes-and-variations/proposed-changes-54-to-56-waimea-water-management-security-of-supply/.

Residential density project

The Richmond residential density project was a one year project to examine how a high density housing policy could be managed (and implemented). The panel report (enclosed in the agenda), makes a number of recommendations.

While I agreed with the first resolution (to receive the report), I did not agree with the second or third resolutions that appeared in the agenda. In my mind, given the importance of getting this planning change right, council needed more time to get its head around what the recommendations would mean, and whether there was an opportunity to address some of the regulatory constraints identified by the panel.

An area that did concern me (which was not unanimously supported by council) was the suggested use of greenfield areas for high density developments. In my opinion, greenfield development should be avoided. Rather, council should be providing incentives for the development of brownfield areas (ie land circling the CBD).

Greenfield development diverts investment away from urban brownfield sites, and deprives existing urban centres of the vitality they need. Brownfield development can be characterised as a move from suburban sprawl to urban regeneration (see www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/15/greenfield-sites-cities-commuter-central-brownfield-sites). Brownfield development has also been described as “garden grabbing” (where back gardens are redeveloped). What we would call “infill” development.

To place high density developments on the outer urban fringes that are open fields (greenfields) just invites future additional infrastructural costs (eg, storm water expansion, and more roads to build, maintain and manage). In my mind, high density development needs to be near the CBD, where existing infrastructure is already present. High density living, close to the CBD (where services are already located), benefits not only elderly residents who want to walk into the CBD, but would also liven inner city business, from an increase in people. Developing higher density housing around the CBD which was already developed (brownfields), also provides an opportunity to replace old or poor housing stock, with modern, warmer housing.

In my opinion, what became apparent from the panel’s recommendations, was developers seeing high density development as a continuation of single level, detached, houses. Yet, this is not what high density housing should be about. I certainly do not want to see the outer fringes of Richmond turn into a sea of roofs – and nor do residents.

SingleLevelDensity

What they want is a lifestyle. Its why they come to Richmond, rather than live in Wellington or Auckland. They want open spaces. It’s why we have witnessed a growth in lifestyle blocks.

Unfortunately, it became very clear that established developers in Richmond had not got their head around a different type of development. They still appeared to see homes as single level detached homes. And the only way to perpetuate that paradigm of thinking was to allow higher coverage percentages over land, so they could squeeze more single level homes within the same land area they were developing. This also meant they could keep the price of such houses within the band of affordability (and sale-ability). Which is probably what is driving developers to ask for smaller sections and higher coverage allowances.

In my mind, high density housing should not mean a sea of roofs (from housing being closer together) and a loss of useable open spaces (because there’s only a metre of land circling the home). Its not about just infill developments. As one councilor appeared to think it meant. Thats just bad town planning, brought about by a simplistic view of what high density living means.

What it should mean is that the large open spaces are more communal. It also means that housing is not single level or detached. Rather it means that housing would be multi-level and attached. By going up, it means there is still open green spaces to enjoy, and the coverage percentage does not need to increase to achieve this outcome. The comparison between low rise (single level) intensification (from increasing coverage), compared to medium rise (multi-level) intensification is illustrated in the following diagram.

DensityCoverageCompare1

It’s for this reason, that I believe council needs to workshop the recommendations and to see the different possibilities that high density development can be. If we are not on the same page, then it will be impossible for staff to deliver the right incentives for owners and developers.

In my opinion, the main problem in Richmond is the under use of existing housing stock. And the presence of quite old housing stock. There are many residents sitting on very large (old) homes that have empty bedrooms because the kids have left the nest. These owners often want to downsize to a nice modern property, but there are very few new homes that are the size they want, in the location they want.

Why can’t council provide the right financial levers for owners to redevelop their properties and land (we are talking about groups of 6 or more adjacent properties) into a high density development (that might contain 12 or 20 modern homes, with large floor space), that provides the owners an upgraded home, perhaps also an income from owning a second home within the developed complex, and a profit to the developer from developing the land for those owners (by means of a fee and\or money from the disposal of surplus units).

I have seen such complexes in Europe (and Wellington). In some, they have included private tennis courts and swimming pools. In some, car parking is below ground level (beneath the complex). These are high value, spacious homes, in very good proximity to CBD services. Why can’t we incentivise the development of these types of complexes near Elizabeth Street or Edward Street areas?

The added bonus of this type of development, is it also opens up the availability of other housing stock to new home owners, as the owner shifts from their empty nest to the new higher density development. This takes the pressure of an expansion of greenfield development, that would further encroach onto rural land. And makes the need to increase coverage redundant.

Council resolved to received the report and sought to align any public consultation with the forthcoming wider Richmond CBD consultation process (effectively replacing resolutions 2 and 3, with new resolutions). This hopefully will give councillors some time to workshop the panel’s recommendations and for staff to come back with additional recommendations.

Residential building coverage

I found this report interesting. First, it started off on the premise that council had requested a plan change to increase building coverage from 33% to 40%. I was not aware of such a request, unless the reference to council meant council staff, or there had been a workshop I was not aware of.

I suspect it was a staff initiative following up from one of the recommendations from the urban density panel (discussed above).

While I agree that standardising our rules with Nelson (who already has 40% coverage rule) is a good reason to do it, having a different coverage rate is not something that creates complexity or confusion. Which is the purpose of rule alignment between the two councils. For that reason standardising the rules is not overly compelling argument. Furthermore, just because they have not thought through the consequences of their planing rules, should not mean we should follow them like lemmings?

In my mind, coverage of land was not the problem, nor the panacea. Coverage was a tool to address a problem, and that problem was housing demand and the availability of suitable housing stock. And that problem was itself due in part to a large part of the population sitting in large homes that were partially empty. Essentially, empty bedrooms they did not use (the empty nest) .

In my opinion, increasing the coverage percentage was not addressing the issue. Although it was allowing the developers to continue to perpetuate the development of single level detached homes. Basically increasing the coverage percentage allowed them to squeeze more homes into the same area of development. Thus ensure they had a product that would appeal to the desired price range. All that this would bring about is a sea of roofs and more greenfield development into rural land, rather than ensuring developers first explored brownfield development opportunities.

A sea of roofs is hardly the lifestyle that people coming to the Tasman region were wanting. They could get that in Wellington or Auckland (which is where many residents in the region have come from). If anything people were coming to the Tasman region to get away from crammed living. They wanted open space.

I also did not agree with the urban density panel’s reported recommendation that low site coverage was a barrier to achieving higher density (para 4.8 of the agenda). Density can be increased without increasing coverage, by going up, instead of out. The illustration below again shows the contrast (as discussed above). Medium rise developments provide for more open space that single level (low rise) developments that require more coverage.

DensityCoverageCompare1

For that reason, we should be putting policies in place to ensure open space is protected, not infilled. If the coverage percentage was not increased, developers would have to go up. And if we got our high density development rules sorted out, we would not need to change the coverage percentage.

Another argument raised by some councilors for raising the coverage percentage to 40% was the argument that the increase was not significant. However, if it was not significant, why do it?

In my opinion, increasing the coverage percentage was sending developers the wrong signals. Increasing the coverage percentage by 7% was just allowing a perpetuation of the current housing model into green fields (rural land) – but with something that looks like the low rise development picture above. Not doing anything would make development of Brownfields (existing residential land) a more compelling proposition. Especially if it was tied to additional planning incentives.

In my opinion, the coverage percentage issue needed to be considered in tandem with the council’s consideration of high density developments. They could not be considered in isolation. Because if we got the high density rules right, there would be no need to increase coverage percentages across the region. There would be enough housing stock for the 4,000 people projected to arrive over the next 10 years.

Council resolved to receive the report, and instructed staff to prepare a draft plan change on increased coverage, when the effects of increasing building coverage on storm water run off are understood.

While staff acknowledged that any increase in the coverage percentage was subject to better understanding of storm water run off (which is big concern for Richmond), I did not agree with this initiative, and I was the sole voter against it.

Annual bio-security (pest management) report

The decision for council was to receive the report and approve the council’s operational (pest management) plan for the 2015-16 year. Council unanimously did both.

The report identified councils: (1) pest eradication strategy (involving 13 plant pests, for example cathederal bells and african feather grass), (2) pest reduction (or progressive control) strategy (involving 18 plant pests, for example banana passion vine, old mans beard, and five species of fish), (3) pest containment strategy (involving 14 pests, for example ants, rabbits, feral cats, and magpies), and (4) boundary control strategy (involving 13 identified pests, most commonly weeds or horticultural disease, for example apple tree canker).

The report highlights a number of trends for each pest type. For example, trends in fish pest sites across the region show a resurgence of a number of identified pests in sites that were previously in decline.

FishPests

On behalf of Richmond residents I asked about the councils pest management strategy in relation to Ants. And for a trend graph for Ants (which I am still waiting on). And in particular, why the strategy was containment, rather than eradication.

Staff conceded that the ant problem was substantial and the cost of eradication was now, not only very expensive, but difficult to implement with any success. Its for this reason that the council no longer sprayed for ants along roadsides. The investment was not producing any substantive results to justify the expense. It was considered that the best strategy was to bait the ants during spring and that council would continue to inform the public on how best to do this.

I noted that recent news reports had showed that eradication had been successful in parts of the north island. Apparently, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) had used a sniffer dog (called Rhys Jones) to identify nests as part of a highly targeted nest eradication strategy. (The welshman in me loves the dogs name). And that this strategy had proved successful in bringing about a substantive decline in the ant population (see www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11522943). Apparently this has also been done with some success in Australia with fire ants (see www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-16/sniffer-dogs-help-fight-battle-against-fire-ants-in-queensland/6623876).

I asked if council staff were speaking with MPI. I was informed attempts had been made in the past to involve MPI in an eradication project, but MPI did not appear to be very interested. In my opinion, perhaps it was time to try again (with Richmond as a pilot project)?

River water quality report

This was an information only item (not requiring any decision).

Overall, water quality is good. With 13 of the 20 significant trends (eg pollution, water clarity, etc), showing improvement across the 57 river sites tested across the region. For example, the level of disease causing organisms has reduced in 4 of the 12 sites where such disease were present, water clarity has improved significantly in 8 sites, and concentrations of toxic nutrient ammonia has declined at 18 sites.

However, there is still room for improvement. Roughly 30% of streams in the region have low dissolved oxygen and high water temperatures. The presence of shade near rivers and streams would reduce this and improve water quality.

The full report on river water quality is available online (located at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/reports/environmental/state-of-the-environment-river-water-quality-2015/).

Coastal settlements groundwater survey report

This was an information only item (not requiring any decision).

The report showed that overall, there was very little change from past surveys undertaken in the costal settlements north of Takaka. As most of the surveyed wells are shallow, they are considered unsecure.

Bacteria testing showed that (24 of 38 samples) 63% of samples exceeded water drinking standards (1cfu/100mL ecoli count). Only two samples showed a greater than 250 cfu/100mL limit. In 2004-05, 68% exceeded the 1cfu/100mL guideline, and in 2006-07, 42% exceeded the higher 5cfu/100mL guideline.

Environment and planning activity report

Highlights from the manager’s report are outlined below.

Aorere river project

Congratulations to NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere river project, which recently won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ river prize at the international river symposium in Brisbane. The project came about due to high faecal bacteria counts in aquaculture. Research and monitoring identified that dairy farming (not black swans) was the primary source of the problem. Improved effluent management resulted in improvements in water quality and longer aquaculture harvesting periods. Congratulations also to the many landowners (and council staff) who stepped up and played their part. Well done to all!

Wetland project

Roughly 60% of (282 of the 474) wetlands have been surveyed to date. About 90 of the 206 landowners who have been notified of wetlands on their property, have requested visits. Of that group 60% (56 of the 90) have been surveyed.

Climate change

The fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has been received by council. Headline issues (based on measured data) include: increasing temperatures and sea levels.

Annual temperature for Nelson (1909 to 2014)

Temperature1

Relative sea level rise (1900 to 2007)

SeaLevel1

Rainfall and water

A recent NIWA report (see https://www.niwa.co.nz/climate/sco) has suggested that there could be a 10% reduction in rainfall over the eastern catchment (Waimea, Wai-iti, Motupiko) for next year. While there is a risk of drought (due to shallow aquifers), there is equally a chance aquifers will be replenished from a large storm. Generally, it takes 6 weeks for storage to be depleted before restrictions are imposed. Overall, aquifers are at a satisfactory level, with most at, or above, mean water levels.

Rainfall (January to August 2015)

Rainfall1

Aquifer status

AquiferStatus1

At this stage, given the wet spring and satisfactory aquifer levels, the irrigation season for the Waimea plains is in a good position.

Financials

We are 16% into the financial year. Overall, total operating income is ahead of budget (by $386,415). This is good. However, total operating expenses is above budgeted expenditure (by $4,626). Notably, the wage allocation is ($35,972 above budget), professional fees ($21,891 above budget) and overheads ($23,749 above budget). On the upside, operating costs are $81,466 below budgeted expenditure.

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/2015/2015-10-08.

Media

(Nelson mail) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/72861781/el-nino-set-to-scorch-nelson.

(Nelson Live) nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/10/public-feedback-sought-richmonds-housing-density/.

 

Environment and planning committee and extraordinary full council meeting (16 July)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 16 July 2015. Apologies were received from Crs Bryant, Edgar, and Mirfin. All other councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) Golden Bay (Mohua) landscape project, (2) resource consent manager’s report, (3) contact recreation water quality annual report, (4) dog control policy and practices report, and (5) the manager’s report. Presentations were also received from the public and are briefly summarised below. At the conclusion of this meeting, an extraordinary full council meeting was also held. This is discussed below.

Public forum

The public forum received presentations from: (1) Gillian Bishop and Kevin McClintock on the importance of the Waimea inlet, and (2) Liz Thomas and Petra Stephenson regarding a rural land use petition that was tabled.

Golden Bay (Mohua) Landscape Project

The final report on the Golden Bay/Mohua Landscape Project was received from the small group. The rthe final report describes and evaluates 6 outstanding natural landscapes (ONLs), and 10 outstanding natural features (ONFs) in Golden Bay (Mohua) area. The draft (and final) reports are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/tasman/projects/environmental-projects/golden-bay-landscape-project/. At the time of writing this post, the final report had not yet been uploaded. It is expected to be uploaded once council has considered it as part of a plan change consultation workshop.

Changes to the draft report include a more detailed description of the qualities of the ONLs andONFs and a clearer narrative explaining how the Small Group came to its view in relation to each ONL and ONF. The biggest change from the draft report is a reduction in the number of ONFs. Many of them are now included within ONLs.

I took the opportunity to congratulate the small group for their efforts. It was always going to be a difficult process that had caused a great deal of robust discussion (and tension) amongst the group. I thanked them for their efforts in having that debate on behalf of the public.

Council resolved to support option 1 in the agenda, and hold a workshop in September 2015 in preparation for a draft plan change and public consultation on the proposed designations in early 2016.

The reasons for the project are summarised at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/tasman/projects/environmental-projects/golden-bay-landscape-project/golden-bay-landscapes-project-plan/. Essentially, its a statutory obligation of council.

Resource consents

The manager’s report presented a summary of the resource consents team performance for the 2014-15 year. A total of 1,319 applications were lodged, with 38 being withdrawn or cancelled, and 56 incomplete applications being returned. A total of 1,097 applications were completed.

Of the 1,097 applications completed 7 hearings were required. Of the 69 publicly or limited notified applications, 7 were able to be granted without a hearing because all issues were resolved.

Applications Lodged During 2014-2015 Year

Category 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Certificate of Compliance

2

10

6

4

7

3

Coastal

20

21

16

55

36

17

Discharge

124

202

133

152

171

231

Water

61

247

134

173

189

349

Land Use District

431

478

548

474

438

480

Land Use Regional

141

31

42

35

36

39

Designation

10

4

0

2

0

5

Outline Plan

19

15

14

6

8

15

Subdivision

188

137

151

120

130

131

Rights of Way

9

13

8

6

12

12

Totals 1,005 1,158 1,052 1,027 1,027 1,319

A total of 484 (45%) of all resource consent applications completed, had time extensions applied, 70% of those at the request of or with agreement from the applicants. 41% of non-notified applications had time extensions applied in the 2014-2015 year, compared with 24% in 2013-2014. 80% of the notified applications completed during 2014-2015 had time extensions applied, compared with 70% in 2013-2014.

For the 2014-2015 year, there were 7 non-notified applications involving 12 consents that were completed out of time, resulting in 7 fee discounts. These discounts totalled $3,000 excluding GST (compared with $436 in 2011-12, and $3,000 in 2012-13 years).

Timeliness of Non-notified Applications

NonNotified2015

Timeliness of Public and Limited Notified Applications

PublicNotified2015

Contact Recreation Water Quality Annual Report

Tasman District Council has monitored swimming holes and coastal beaches since the mid 1990s in accordance with national guidelines and responsibilities under s 35 of the Resource Management Act. A total of 11 sites (7 freshwater and 4 marine) were sampled for faecal indicator bacteria between November 2014 and March 2015.

There were a total of 11 exceedances of national guidelines, out of a total of 221 samples taken. All marine sites except Pohara were fully compliant this season in all weather.

Pohara Beach exceeded four times in dry weather. After sampling at a total of 4 sites along Pohara beach it was found that the beach water contamination originated from the Pohara Creek plume and that it only spread as far west as the campground boat ramp at worst. Pohara Creek was confirmed as a potential source of this contamination in 2005-2006 and again this season.

A sanitary survey was successfully undertaken over the 2006-07 summer. A significant faecal discharge was discovered and the household’s sewerage system was repaired to ensure it connected with the municipal system in 2006.

In 2015, sewage and stormwater pipes from several key properties were dye tested and sewer lines inspected. No obvious source of faecal contamination was found. The source of contamination remains unknown. Staff will be taking a fresh approach to testing in 2016.

Laboratory costs of around $12,000 made up the vast majority of the annual budget apart from staff time and vehicle running costs. Summer student employees do most of the fieldwork required.

Coastal beach locations

WaterQuality2015_1

Red results are over alarm levels (>280 Enterococci/100ml) and orange results are in the alert range (140-280 Enterococci/100ml).

Freshwater locations

WaterQuality2015_2

Red results are over alarm levels (>550 E. coli/100ml) and orange results are in the alert range (260-550 E. coli/100ml).

Sampling results (and locations) are displayed on a council webpage located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/water/swimming-water-quality/.

Results for toxic algae monitoring in the regions rivers in are displayed on the councils webpage located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/framework/main.php/water/rivers/river-water-quality/monitoring-toxic-algae/?url=/environment/water/rivers/river-water-quality/monitoring-toxic-algae/.

Dog Control Policy and Practices

The Council reviewed its Dog Control Policy and Bylaw in 2014 adopting the Dog Control Policy 2014 and Dog Control Bylaw 2014 on the 18 September 2014.

Number of dog owners in the district is 6,778 (including probationary owners 1, disqualified owners 0). The number of registered dogs in the district is 10,391(comprising rural dogs 5,663 and urban dogs 4,728).

The number of dogs classified as dangerous was 9. The number of dogs classified as menacing was 68. A toital of 119 infringement notices were issued. The report provides a detailed summary of the types of complaints received by council.

Recently, dog control services had put out for tender and awarded to Control Services Nelson Ltd.

30 June 2015 was the deadline for registrations. At the time of the report, 70% of dogs had been registered. Penalties for late registration would be added in August.

Overall, dog control appears good, with very few incidents considering the number of dogs and dog owners in the region.

Manager’s report

Highlights of the report include:

  • Aquaculture. The Ministry of Primary Industries announced (on 5 June 2015) 2011 ha of new space available for aquaculture in the region. Council will need work with iwi and marine farmers to identify and allocate 20% of the space, as part of the settlement of Maori claims to commercial aquaculture.
  • National Environmental Standard on Plantation Forestry. The new standards propose standardising RMA rules for forestry activities across the country. In my opinion, while this might be beneficial for large forestry operations that cross a number of different regions (with different rules and plans), it fails to reflect the different environmental conditions of those different regions – which is the basis of the concept of sustainable development and management (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/71259064/nelson-city-council-submits-to-national-forestry-standards and http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/70328763/forestry-standards-will-harm-regions-biodiversity). Staff were asked to draft a submission on the proposal.
  • Water quality advisory groups. Waimea Flag and Takaka Flag have released its overall water management objectives for feedback. The Waimea Flag group is currently focussing on understanding more about potential changes to nitrate leaching under different land use patterns and the effect this has on the aquifer water quality in relation to the drinking water standards. Councilors raised questions over costs and staff undertook to report back on the issue.
  • Low impact design. On 2 June, a discussion workshop was held in Takaka about what is commonly referred to as low impact design (LID) standards for land development and its relevancy to the Rural Land Use and Subdivision Draft Plan Change 54. Crs Bouillir and Ensor were in attendance.
  • Development contribution refunds. Refunds are to be made to those people who paid contributions now that Coastal Tasman pipeline project has been removed from the LTP. The sum of the refunds is $915,967 and the credits total a further $37,442.
  • Dam safety regulations. The Government has decided that dam safety is better suited to being managed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) rather than the Building Act. Accordingly, the Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2008 have been revoked under the Building (Dam Safety) Revocation Order 2015, with effect from 30 June 2015.
  • Spa pool exemption. Section 6 of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act allows the council to allow an exemption from fencing by way of resolution where the exemption would not significantly increase the level of danger. Staff consider that spa pools with lockable covers would comply with the exemption test. In the spirit of removing unnecessary red tape, council resolved to provide an exemption from fencing a spa pool with a lockable lid.
  • Water data. The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) web site has recently been upgraded to include real-time data on river flow, groundwater and rainfall levels at over 1000 sites around New Zealand (see http://www.lawa.org.nz).
  • Air quality. Only 2 exceedences of the National Environmental Standard occured this winter in the Richmond.
  • House insultation rates subsidy. The Council has been operating the Warm Tasman Voluntary Targeted Rate (VTR) scheme programme since 2010. This programme enabled home owners to apply for a voluntary rate on their property that paid for the costs of upgrading insulation or upgrading a wood burner in the Richmond Airshed. The number of applications had dropped away over the last few years to 14 in 2014-15 (20 applications in 2013-14). Staff recommended terminating the scheme. The basis for this was the cost of administering the scheme. In my opinion, the argument was unconvincing. Numbers had dropped away, which meant very little time was actually spent on administering the scheme. On this basis, there seemed to be little gained in terminating the scheme. The majority of council resolved to terminate the scheme.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-07-16.

Extraordinary full council meeting

The meeting was a result of a request under section 2.15 of standing orders. The meeting was to discuss the full council’s prior decision to dispose of the portable seating on 18 June 2015. I was not present at that meeting as I was in the UK attending my brothers wedding. However, I was intrigued to see another instance of councillors re-litigating earlier decisions of council. This discussion was confidential as was the discussion on 18 June 2015. Although I really could not see why it could not have been held in public.

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-07-16.

Environment and planning committee (22 May)

 

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 22 May 2014.

Minutes have yet to be posted. But it is hoped that unconfirmed minutes will be available to the public soon.

The agenda (comprised 211 pages) and included the following topics (some not requiring any decisions): (1) outstanding natural features project in Golden bay, (2) dog control bylaws, (3) feedback on the mooring areas review, (4) climate change risk report, (5) recreation water quality report, (6) manager’s report, and (7) a presentation on freedom camping issues from the NZ Motor Caravan Association

Outstanding natural features project

The report sought direction on further steps to protect outstanding natural landscapes cross the Tasman region. At an earlier environment and planning meeting (10 April 2013) council requested additional information with regard to costs, timeframes, and other variables. Since 2011, consultants fees have totaled $162,000.

Staff advised that costs, time, and staff resources were available within budget to complete the work. On this basis it was recommended that staff continue the collaborative process in Golden Bay on protecting outstanding natural features, and at the same time start landscape assessment work for the rest of the District, with the end-point being a single plan change for the whole District.

Dog control bylaws

The current Dog Control Bylaw 2009 (and Dog Control Policy) is due for review by 12 September 2014. The report sought approval to commence the special consultative procedure in relation to reviewing the existing Tasman District Council Consolidated Bylaw (Chapter 6: Dog Control Bylaw 2009) and the associated Dog Control Policy.

I found this bylaw to be a very well written document with very useful illustrations of where activities are permitted, not permitted, or controlled.

The review process proposes to address a number of concerns raised by the general public, including: (1) a ban on dogs within the defined CBD area of Takaka during business hours, (2) a new leash control area in the Richmond foothills, and (3) a ban on dogs within the Sand Island area (near the airport).

The consultation period will be from 2 June to 7 July. The aim is to have a final draft bylaw to Council for approval and adoption by 14 August 2014.

Mooring areas

This report presented public feedback from the community engagement process on mooring areas held from January to March 2014 and requested council approval for its public release.

The public were consulted on creating new mooring areas (with combined Plan and Bylaw changes) or retaining the existing system.

The majority of respondents supported a change to the existing system (together with new mooring areas) that moves away from resource consents to a system of designated mooring areas and annual renewable occupation licenses The feedback report is contained in the agenda from pages 114 to 132.

Climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) released a fifth Assessment Report on climate change based on earlier findings released in September 2013 and March 2014 (see http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/). This report will impact on future planning decisions for council.

The IPPC reports confirm most observed and projected impacts identified in previous IPCC assessment reports. However, the projections are now more certain in linking greenhouse gas emission scenarios with impacts. And fundamentally changes our understanding of how these global impacts will manifest themselves in New Zealand (and locally in Tasman). In response to this report, it is expected that national guidance on sea level rises will increase – with the upper projected level rising by 2100 from 0.8 metres to 1.0 metres.

A detailed summary of the report can be found at pages 134 to 146 of the agenda (and provides some interesting information on projected rainfalls).

Recreation water quality

Council has monitored swimming holes and coastal beaches since the mid 1990’s in accordance with national guidelines and responsibilities under s35 of the Resource Management Act (RMA).

A total of 21 sites (nine freshwater and 12 marine) were sampled for faecal indicator bacteria between November 2013 and March 2014. Ten sites were fully compliant this season in all weather. National guidelines were exceeded 27 times (11 “Amber” and 16 “Red”) out of a total of 354 samples taken. Non-compliant sites included: Best Island, Patons Rock, Tukurua Stream and Pohara Beach (see Tables at para 5.2 and 5.3 on pages 151 and 152 of the agenda). This equates to approximately 8% of samples exceeding microbiological guidelines. Of the 27 non-complying events, 22 were associated with rainfall events. Excluding the 22 rainfall-influenced samples gives a compliance rate of 98.6%, which is just above the 10 year average compliance rate of 97%.

Using the Ministry for the Environment “Suitability for Recreation Grade” criteria Kaiteriteri Beach was graded “Good” and both Mapua Leisure Park Beach and Rabbit Island Main Beach were graded “Very Good” during all weather (see Tables at para 5.8 on pages 154 to 155 and 161 of the agenda).

Manager’s report

A petition (signed by a number of concerned residents), requesting that a proposed aerial drop of 1080 in the Pearse/Baton/Mt Arthur area be publicly notified, was received by council. Council was advised by staff that the aerial application of 1080 is a discretionary activity (under the Tasman Resource Management Plan) if it fails to comply with the standards and terms applicable to a controlled activity. As no resource consent application for the area identified in the petition had been received by TDC, no response could be made. However, affected parties could expect due process to be followed when an application for resource consent was filed.

The government recently amended the law on psychoactive substances (commonly known as legal highs) which has resulted in all such products being removed from sale. This does not affect the validity of the council’s Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) which has been reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health. Tasman District Council (TDC) is one of five Councils that already have an operational LAPP. The Ministry of Health is recommending that those councils who do not have a Policy, continue to put one in place. To date no legal challenge has been made against TDC’s Policy.

Two land parcels near the corner of Mapua Drive and Higgs Road both have “deferred residential” status. This means they cannot be developed for residential purposes until utilities are in place to council standards. Council is likely to grant subdivision consent for one parcel of land which can show that the subdivided land can be serviced to council standards.

Tasman Resource Management Plan Changes 49 (Private request Foodstuffs SI Ltd: Richmond south) and Change 50 (Private request Network Tasman Ltd: Hope) were approved as decisions and notified on 8 March 2014. No appeals were received to these changes.

Wellington City Council is proposing a remit be passed at the forthcoming LGNZ conference asking the Government to consider measures to reduce the disincentives to strengthen earthquake prone buildings. The remit encourages tax rebates for earthquake strengthening – that would benefit private building owners. While this would not directly benefit councils, it does support our community. I support this remit.

Appeals have been received from three parties (Fish & Game (Nelson Marlborough Region) New Zealand, Horticulture New Zealand, and Queen Street Industrial Park Ltd) concerning the outcome of an earlier commission hearing on the council’s water management policy. All three appeals are concerned with the “without dam” management provisions.

Fish & Game have representation on the the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee (WWAC) who support construction of a Dam. Fish & Game appeal concerns two main matters of detail relating to the management of over-allocation of water and maintenance of minimum flows in the Waimea River. The appeal seeks that over-allocation be phased out by 2030. The appeal also seeks that all water users be required to cease abstraction when Waimea River flows reach 800l/sec, except for specified uses such as water required for human health. The plan currently requires a 70% reduction in allocated use when flows at Appleby drop to 800l/sec with some exceptions. Queen Street Industrial Park Ltd seeks an alternative minimum flow of 650l/sec for the Waimea River. Horticulture NZ appears to be primarily concerned with the water allocation priority during periods of rationing and water shortage. The Environment Court has asked the parties to enter mediation.

There continues to be an accounting surplus due to underspend in salary costs (due to delays in filling staff vacancies) and some projects yet to be charged (and some may not be completed by year end). A full financial analysis of the E&P team can be found at page 199 of the agenda.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2014/2014-05-22.