Environment Court

Dodgy Socialist Dam gets it in the chook

The dodgy socialist dam in Central Hawkes Bay has been given a serious kick in the slats by the Board of Inquiry. The Board of Inquiry approved consents but with some stringent conditions that leave the project struggling for viability.

This is a big win for the opponents of the dam who did not want the Tukituki turned toxic by the HBRC not managing Nitrogen, and setting nutrients levels at toxicity, killing the river. Those who don’t believe it is a win for opponents should view the footage of Craig Foss and Chris Tremain arriving in the house 45 minutes late looking shaken after their pet socialist project got it in chook.

The HBRC needs to have a good long hard look at itself as it made its decisions to proceed based on the exceptionally flawed TRIM model. We have long known the TRIM model is a total jack up to let the dam proceed and the council to turn the Tukituki toxic. The Board of Inquiry appears to have came to the same conclusion we did in October last year.

The dodgy socialist dam being promoted by the dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council is based on a seriously flawed model that is being promoted by the ratbag council staff.

The Tukituki River Instream Model or TRIM is being used as justification for turning the Tukituki toxic. This dodgy model has the following flaws: ¬†¬† Read more »

Bye bye excessive development contributions

Policy Parrot says:

Awesome news my feathered friends!

This Parrot has been reservedly cagey about the chances that Minister for Local Government Chris Tremain would do much of substance to sort out the pig’s breakfast that is Local Governance in NZ. Disappointingly past governments have systematically shifted more powers onto Local Government with the intent of making central government’s role more efficient but that has occurred at the expense of local level business and development.

The property industry is typically quiet. Nobody puts their head above the parapet in case it is chopped off by the public executioner for breaching the Tall Poppy Act. So when they are drawn out to have a bitch about matters it is done cautiously and reluctantly or behind the veil of lobby groups like the Property Council or the Planning Institute.

For years however the industry has cried foul over the imposition of development contributions. The former Labour Government can be thanked for the introduction of that nasty surprise that aided local government into a LGA enabled taxing regime on new development rather than an RMA enabled regime using financial contributions. It was fairly well-known that the charges were a rort and the Environment Court had done an excellent job of deciphering the bullshit, reducing payments and making things fair and equitable.

Not so under the LGA. Council‚Äôs can make up the contributions without any necessity to consult meaningfully and with no requirement to prove the rates are fair. Income from development contributions generally vanishes into the general slush fund and is washed around to pay for whatever Council treasuries need it for on an annual basis. Lax reporting rules further enhance the ability for Councils to run amok with capital derived funding and generally not have to reveal how the ledger is balanced. ¬† Read more »

A taniwha in the clouds?

Fresh out of luck after losing the water battle, maori bludgers are now trying their hand tilting at clouds, or rainbows or other unseen forces in order to stand over commercial¬†organisations¬†with their brown-mail. They’ll claim a new flying taniwha is angry anytime soon.

The government’s plan to auction 4G spectrum in September or October faces delay, with Maori claimants to spectrum rights reactivating a dormant claim to the Waitangi Tribunal by seeking an urgent hearing on it.

Pundits are picking anywhere between $200 million to $400 million for Crown coffers from the auction of airwaves freed up by the switchover from analogue to digital TV – which are suitable for the new fourth-genertion mobile networks being rolled out by Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees. A similar auction across the Tasman¬†raised¬†$A1.96 billion for the Australian government. ¬†¬† Read more »

Coney barking up wrong tree

Policy Parrot says:

There is nothing more hilarious than watching Auckland Council fret about legal advice because the advice will be worthless shit.

Today Bernard Orsman reports that Councillor Sandra Coney wants to review legal advice provided to the top Council planners. Her desire to test the lawfulness of the Unitary Plan is smart. But unsurprisingly council officers don’t want her to read it.

This Parrot says that the advice won’t be worth the paper it is written on.

This Parrot can justify said statement because years of legal proceedings such as plan changes, variations, financial contribution battles, Judicial Review’s and other legal brouhaha where Council has either lost or had it’s planning provisions substantially changed proves they are getting poor advice over which fights they can win and which they can’t. They always start the process thinking they are right and what they have drafted is vires.

For example six long years of LGAAA and Plan Change 6 appeals on the Regional Policy Statement. The end result was a clear win for opponents of Council’s planning provisions. Or heritage provisions through Plan Change 167 in Auckland City – pulverised by Remuera locals. What about the tree rules smashed to oblivion by the Property Council?

The point this Parrot is making is that Council legal advice falls short more often than it upholds a Council position with wins. Provisions do get overturned and often.¬† Read more »

Environment Court to close?

Policy Parrot says:

Recently this Parrot has been amused with the idle chit chat coming from members of the wig and gown fraternity where it concerns the future of the Environment Court. Apparently some from the Resource Management Sect are not happy that Chris Finlayson is casually discussing the possibility of getting rid of the Environment Court and merging it with the District Court.

Nobody knows if this is a credible discussion or merely a man thinking of ideas aloud but it has caused a flutter and some are filing their teeth to have a little fight in support of the Court. Cherish the loyalty.

The Environment Court has in the distant past a dim legacy of delay. But that was a very long time ago and in the last 5 years or so Acting Chief Judge Laurie Newhook has done much to eliminate the issues of delay so that it can be fairly said that the Court is now swift and responsive.

It is certainly clear to those who frequent the hallowed halls of justice that the process is as quick as it can be given the lack of expedient conduct by parties such as Councils and appellants who are notorious for dragging the chain whilst blaming everyone else including the Court for said delays.

This Parrot has heard that certain corporate heavy weights have been whinging to the Government about the Court process and scathing their distaste for RMA lawyers. What is particularly unusual is that these whinging suits happen to be on a list of corporates who rarely venture into the Environment Court system and for whom unfettered rights to do whatever they want is impinged by a Court process. They can‚Äôt stand the thought that a democratic nation might impose a system that upholds natural justice. ¬†¬† Read more »

Denniston Plateau coal mine appeal thrown out

Forest and Bird’s appeal against the Denniston Plateau coal mine has been tossed out.

If he’s true to form we can no doubt expect Nasty Norman to threaten Bathurst with an instant closure of Denniston should the Greens form a government in 2014.

Comments please Damian O’Connor – is it to be jobs for Coasters or will you be kowtowing to the Greens?

Conservationists fighting a decision to allow an Australian mining company to dig for coal on the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau have suffered a major setback today with a High Court appeal being thrown out.

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society appealed interim resource consent given to Bathurst Resources Limited for an 188ha open-cast mine on the plateau near Westport.

It argued that the Environment Court did not give proper consideration to the possibility of there being two open-cast coal mines simultaneously working the area when it gave Bathurst the go-ahead.¬† Read more »

Environment Court slaps Len’s face

Len Brown Smack faceOn Wednesday the Environment Court released a very interesting decision that is bound to have wiped the smile of Len Brown’s face today. The Herald has an article about it, but misses the important factors.

Plan Change 163 was an Auckland Council attempt to list properties in the Residential 1 and 2 zones of Auckland.

The decision is fascinating because it is highly unusual for the Court to make comments about process, time and who is to blame for delays and issues of process. Judge Smith has gone further to detail an anatomy of delay and has squarely pointed his finger at  Auckland Council with a 15 page savage ankle biting.

But first the background.

Auckland Council recently courted Government officials and ministers in an attempt to seek legislative change to benefit a fast track process on the Unitary Plan that would give effect to the plan on notification.

In argument Council justified that the process if appealed would likely take 3-6 years and so it additionally sought that appeals rights be limited to matters of law – which is a blatant attempt to stop the Environment Court from interfering with the plan it feels is ‘perfecto’.

To back its position, the Council foolishly fingered the Court for delays in past plan changes stating that the Court is the reason things take so long.¬† Read more »

Polluting Farmer gets Nailed

Good job, a polluting farmer has been nailed for pouring crap into a waterway. They are repeat offenders too…either they are congenitally stupid or just wankers.

A Bay of Plenty dairy farm has been fined $74,000 in its second round of convictions for discharging effluent into a waterway within 18 months.

Opotiki company Riverlock Farms Ltd and directors Ian and Geoffrey Brown were found guilty after a two-day defended hearing in Whakatane District Court.

Last year the same company was convicted and fined $40,000 for discharging effluent from an effluent pond and discharging effluent from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.

On Thursday the company and brothers were found guilty of three charges, including pumping underpass water containing effluent into a tributary of the Waioeka Stream, effluent flowing into the same tributary when an effluent pond overflowed. The third conviction was for failing to comply with a court order to obtain a report about the farms contingency plans for effluent management.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council was alerted to the offending by a member of the public. The offending occurred on October 18 last year Рjust three months after the company’s previous conviction in the Environment Court in Tauranga. Riverlock Farms is one of the largest farming operations in the Bay of Plenty, milking about 2,500 cows.

Questions Labour and the Greens should be asking David Carter

Instead of rabbiting on about stupid stuff like Planet Key, Labour and the Greens should be holding David Carter’s feet to the fire. He has been touting figures about loss to farmers incomes from the One Plan decision that has no correlation to reality, and making him justify something that is clearly wrong will make entertaining viewing.

Any half decent opposition MP should be able to have blood spilt when a minister makes statements that like Carter has, and when Ministry staff go on the record saying stuff that is obviously wrong.

The scenarios resulting in 22 per cent to 43 per cent cuts to profit were “extreme” and “actually bear little similarity to the One Plan”, Richard Gordon said. The scenario most similar to the One Plan would have an impact on profitability of less than 1 per cent.

He received a response from the ministry’s director of resource policy, Mike Jebsen, who said the scenario mentioned in the memos was “in our view most closely matched the Environment Court direction”.

Asked about Landcare’s email yesterday, Mr Jebsen said the 22 to 43 per cent figures were the best indication of likely impact.

In September, the court, having heard from five economists from Fonterra, Horticulture NZ, Fish & Game and two from Horizons, concluded the effect on farmers would be an average of 5 per cent of annual expenses.

This is a pretty easy play. The people that authored the report are saying the Ministry doesn’t know the difference between their arsehole and elbow, yet the ministry still justify it.

An aspiring opposition leader like Grant Robertson needs to deliver some heads, and David Carter’s head has been served up on a platter by his ministry.

Question Time should be interesting on the 27th, unless Grant bottles it like he did his leadership coup.

David Carter’s fibbing, Ctd

David Carter has continued to fib about the cost to farmers of the One Plan decision in an attempt to provide farmers a right to pollute the hell out of our rivers, then expect us to pay for the clean up.

He has been schooled by the Chairman of Horizons, who has called him out for his fibs, and highlighted the truth about the One Plan.

“The Plan has been through the required process under the¬†RMA, with appellants to the Plan presenting their cases to¬†the Environment Court. The Court heard a range of economic¬†and environmental evidence and all parties were given the¬†opportunity to put forward their arguments and the Court¬†formed their decision on the balance of that evidence.”

The Court’s decision determined the average costs to farmers¬†to be on average 5 per cent of annual operating expenses.

David Carter’s dodgy 22-43% increase in costs were pulled out¬†of someones arse, didn’t make the grade in the environment¬†court and are considered unsound by people in the industry.

Before readers start thinking Bruce Gordon is some hippy tree hugger, he is not. He is a farmer. And he has obviously read the One Plan judgment, unlike our socialist mate Carter.

“We are not here to drive farmers off their land, we’re here¬†to deliver a future for our Region that is both economically¬†and environmentally sustainable.”