Environment Court

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 – just 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.”

Horizons Chairman Calls David Carter a Fibber

The socialist Minister of Agriculture David Carter has been?telling fibs about the One Plan Decision. He has claimed ?that the One Plan Decision will cause on farm costs to rise?between 22-43%. He has been peddling some dodgy research?that was not held up by the Environment Court.

This is bullshit, and farmer and chair of Horizons, Bruce?Gordon, has issued the following statement.

Having been issued a copy of the report (Evaluation of the?impact of different water policy options for managing water?quality limits) this week, council chairman Bruce Gordon?said the report analyses different policy scenarios in the?Manawatu Catchment – none of which reflect the decisions?made by the Environment Court in relation to the One Plan or?outcomes sought through the One Plan.

“Landcare has indicated that none of the eight policy?scenarios evaluated in the report for the Manawatu are?comparable with the One Plan as decided by the Environment?Court.

The real numbers that David Carter cant seem to find are:

?In fact, the 43 per cent scenario highlighted in the?media in terms of impact on profit bears no relationship to?the context of the One Plan. I understand the scenario that?comes closest to the One Plan shows an impact on?profitability of less than 1 per cent.”

Mr Gordon said that this type of misinformation was?extremely disappointing and caused unnecessary distress on?the farming community.

David Carter needs to look at his officials that have?allowed him to mislead the media, farmers and the public?with shonky numbers. He should also be mindful that people who pretend to want to be Speaker need to be above reproach and telling fibs won’t help that.

Why does David Carter Fib About Farm Economics?

David Carter has had a disconnect with the truth. He has been peddling false figures about the One Plan, saying that it will increase farmers costs between 22-43%.

He is either being poorly advised or he is pulling these numbers out of his arse. The Department of Conservation summarises the numbers as follows:

The Court heard evidence on the economic impacts of the plan which indicated the average increase in farm costs of less than 5% but ranging up to 16.6% in some cases. The evidence used by the council was disputed by the primary sectors, who put forward their own evidence however this evidence was not upheld by the court.

It wasn?t upheld by the court because it was bullshit. Bludging farmers having a sook about economics doesn?t mean they are right, and their numbers were considered a joke by peer reviewers, and the Environment Court.

Farmers should realise that just because they have had a historic right to pollute it doesn?t mean they have an enduring right to pollute. They cant screw up our rivers and get away with it like they did in the old days. Their need to internalise the cost they are imposing on society as a free right to pollute is just a dirty big subsidy and subsidised business are unviable.

Farmers should stop saying ?we are farmers, aren’t we great? and start saying ?we are businesses and we have obligations like every other business in the country?. If they were polluting rivers with a factory they would be getting shut down until they stopped ruining a public good, and would be fined and made to pay for the clean up.

The Greens and Labour should be holding David Carter to account for his fibs. If his department or Federated Farmers are putting up numbers that are bullshit it is a free hit on Carter and they should be hitting him hard and often. Ministers need to base statements on fact, not stuff someone pulled out their arse to justify polluting our rivers.

Comrade Kate Shoots Government in Both Feet

As Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has done it again.

While Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is pushing for changes to the Resource Management Act to speed up economic growth and Finance Minister Bill English is harping on about increasing the ?competitiveness? of New Zealand producers, Kate has managed to shoot both of them in the foot.

A recent Environment Court ruling on the Horizons region One Plan effectively means dairy farming, market gardening and cropping now require resource consents from council.

The vege growers originally won their case before Environment Commissioners that they shouldn?t be included in the resource consent nonsense because it would drive them out of business, cost jobs and push up the price of food for people like you and me.

But then Comrade Kate and DoC came up with the bright idea of taking it all to the Environment Court and, voila, they won and the vege growers now face ruin. Worse, its not just growers in the bottom half of the North Island in the Horizons region, the decision will inevitably spread throughout the country to other regional councils who will want to gleefully rake in millions of dollars in Resource Consent bureaucracy.

The problem for the vege guys is they rotate their crops. A year or two growing spuds then the block goes for a rest into pasture and grazing sheep or cattle. The first is an intensive use, the second is a different less intensive use. Then they might, after a year or two want to put it back into growing green vegetables. That?s an intensive use. Time for a new resource consent at a grand a pop whenever you change what you?re doing with the land.

Not too bad? Consider this: Growers can use forty or more different blocks of land so you?re suddenly talking $40,000 or $50,000 in resource consents a year.

Then there?s the cost of the council required farm plan for each block at $2,500 or more each time and the cost of testing leaching for nutrients into waterways to meet council guidelines of the amounts of nitrogen you can put into the soil.

Hang on! There is no workable testing system for measuring such leaching in vegetable growing and, anyway, the council approved levels are so low that many vegetable growers can?t meet their insane standard and will have to go out of business.

Here?s what Kate forgot ? the law of supply and demand. Reduce the supply of vegetables to supermarkets and the price will rapidly rise for shoppers. Nice one.

And so much for encouraging ?competiveness? and ?innovation?. No one will do anything new because of the cost.

Did I mention the $3 billion a year export trade in veges now at risk?

Don?t even get me started on dairying.

Federated Farmers and the growers have lodged an appeal. Want to bet Kate won?t be spending still more taxpayer money defending the decision and further knackering her ministerial colleagues plans?

Lyin’ Len cops one from the Environment Court

Len Brown has been trying to stall development in Auckland by running a go slow process to stop anything from happening. This is part of his broader strategy to force Aucklanders into High Rises, creating slums in our character suburbs so he can get his stupid rail line built.

His low rat cunning is to be respected, but the outcomes are terrible. He furtively seduces Environment Minister Amy Adams into changing the law to deny Aucklanders the right to appeal the forthcoming unitary plan, at the same time as his council has been hammered by Judge Smith for basically being incompetent.

How outrageous for Auckland Council to claim legal appeals add to unnecessary and costly delays when that very council is itself a serial delay-merchant. ?In Lamb & Molloy and NZ Sunday School vs Auckland Council (2012), Judge Smith notes:

?This Court is most concerned by delays created by the Council insisting upon referring matters to the full committee, which only meets once a month, creating considerable delays in the process of these appeals. ?The Court is particularly concerned that representations are being made to Government on the basis of the Court failing to progress planning appeals sufficiently rapidly.?

Judge Smith goes on to say:

?? there have been significant delays in almost every Auckland Council planning appeal that this Court has dealt with due to counsel seeking further time for negotiation and/or requiring approval from the relevant planning committee.?

So Judge Smith is convening judicial telephone conferences to get the appeals process moving, and receiving arguments from most parties, but not all. ?The serial handbrake is none other Auckland Council, which the Court points out does not wish to prepare and circulate its evidence by 21 September 2012, given that it wishes to refer the agreement to a committee of councillors by 5 October 2012.

Why would anyone believe anything that Len Brown had to say about delays and obfuscation in the Environment Court when the evidence suggests that his council, and only his council is responsible for stonewalling delays?

Lyin? Len is after dictatorial powers so he can totally remodel Auckland from a livable city in to a city of high rises along rail corridors.

What’s worse is Amy Adams, nominally a free marketer and National Party minister, looks like she is going to aid and abet him.

Is Amy Adams trying to stitch up Nikki Kaye

This blog is National supporting but not incompetence supporting. There are two ministers who are badly letting National down, Kate Wilkinson and Amy Adams. Kate has increased union membership. Amy has totally screwed up the Auckland Unitary Plan.

Amy?s incompetence has been laid bare by Paul Cavanagah QC, who comes from Herne Bay. He schools her for being incompetent. My favourite line is this one:

If I were Nikki Kaye I would be shitting bricks. If Herne Bay swings against Nikki she is going to get hammered by Socialist Cindy. As this table shows Nikki Kaye?s majority is 741 in Herne Bay, but only 717 in Auckland Central.

Booth Ardern Kaye Margin
Herne Bay Bayfield School, 2 Clifton Road 398 969 571
Marist School, 82 Kelmarna Avenue 129 155 26
St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, 65 Jervois Road 232 376 144

Herne Bay Margin?741

Auckland Central Margin??717

Explaining this in simple terms that even Nikki will be able to understand, if Amy Adams allows Len Brown to remove the right to appeal to the Environment Court then leafy Herne Bay will turn into part leafy party slum high rise and the whole character of the place will change. Nikki has apparently given up on trying to win Auckland Central but if she changes her mind and tries again she will lose because of Amy Adams? stupid decision supporting Len Brown?s unitary plan.

Letter from Paul Cavanagh QC to Amy Adams

What is Sneaky Len up to?

It appears that Len Brown is up to his sneaky and furtive tricks again and is trying to avoid the full weight of transparency of the Environment Court.

What Auckland Council has proposed is an improved consultation designed to front-end public input in relation to one of the most significant planning documents, the unitary plan.? That plan will set the rules and conditions for growth applicable for the next decade at least.? The unitary plan is the big daddy of planning documents because it sets up the process that allows for new communities to be built to cater for future growth.

During the Auckland Plan debate the council’s proposal for a 75:25 intensification vs greenfields ratio was widely attacked as being completely unrealistic.? Unless Aucklanders scale down their housing expectations a 75:25 ratio would lead to a new house being built on every current house to cater for growth over the next 30 years.

What Aucklanders have been waiting for is the draft unitary plan, which all things being equal could be debated and then (if necessary) challenged in the Environment Court.

However it is now apparent that the Auckland Council are trying to exempt the draft unitary plan from merit-based appeal to the Environment Court “… to ensure that the Auckland Plan can become effective as soon as possible, with the associated benefits for delivery of the quality compact city, supply of business land and economic growth, supply and affordability of housing, environmental and heritage protection“.

Firstly, the only so-called benefit of Len Brown’s Auckland Plan is high-rise apartments in neighbourhoods like New Lynn and Papatoetoe, and insufficient greenfield land for new?homes and?businesses.? As a result the price of land will increase further, and Auckland will suffer a?wealth drain as capital and workers respond?to anti-market planning by taking their money and skills?to places like Tauranga, Hamilton, and Australia.? Secondly, Auckland Council’s balance sheet continues to deteriorate with spiralling levels of borrowing and debt in order to pay for infrastructure that is demanded by a very small group of people.

The tragedy is no one has yet told Len that his attempt to avoid accountability through an independent Environment Court might be common place in some jurisdictions (e.g. Sudan or Equatorial Guinea), but it is completely unacceptable in New Zealand.? Len’s mayoral powers do not (at this point) extend to include immunity from appeals led by Aucklanders who care about preserving the form and heritage of their neighbourhood.

Len Brown knows his command and control economics and dopey compact city “vision” won’t stand the scrutiny of the Environment Court, so he has asked the government to screw the scrum in his favour.

No other council has the benefit of a free pass when it comes to the court. Len shouldn’t think he is so special.

I am reliably informed that Cabinet is supposed to be considering Len’s wet dream tomorrow.

We have been advised by Ministry for the Environment officials that Cabinet will be considering on Monday a proposed letter to Mayor Len Brown setting out its proposals for the process for hearing and resolution of the Unitary Plan.? If agreed by Cabinet, this letter will be sent to the Mayor on Monday afternoon.

The Auckland Development Community is concerned that this government actually has the strategic stupidity to submit to Len’s desires.

Amy Adams has some career defining decisions to make tomorrow. If she submits to Len she will be alienating every developer in Auckland. She will be placing a permanent roadblock in her path to the 9th floor. She will have lost credibility and access to future donors in doing so.

While it might be tempting for the MP for a rural south island seat like Selwyn to be the point of least resistance for Labour’s man at the Auckland Town Hall, that does not mean the National government should relegate Aucklanders to second class citizen status.? The promise of a front-end consultation is no substitute for an independent and objective appeals process.

David Carter got sucked in by Len and gave him a free pass on rates. Amy Adams needs to man up in Cabinet, tell Len to HTFU and expect all?his socialist plans to be scrutinised by the Environment Court just like any other council in New Zealand.