RMA

King Salmon can’t even get the most benign environmentalists on their side

via Stuff

King Salmon has been offered a sweetheart deal to move their salmon farms to pristine parts of the Marlborough Sounds.  A toothless RMA process, and no public input.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has initiated a process to give King Salmon an “easy ride” for approvals for new salmon farms in the protected Outer Marlborough Sounds, says the Environmental Defence Society.

“MPI is essentially acting as a co-applicant for approvals that will override the Marlborough Council’s plans that prohibit aquaculture development in the Outer Sounds and that protect scenic and landscape values,” says EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

The Environmental Defence Society is essentially a fox in charge of the hen house.  They are the business end of environmentalism that can generally be relied on not to be at all militant.   But this King Salmon deal has even the EDS up in arms.   Read more »

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Absence of majority continues to frustrate National’s reforms

Richard Harman reports

Over the past two weeks a series of under-reported events and one over-reported one have pointed to what is likely to dominate the next decade.

The focus of much of what has happened has been one of Parliament’s more prosaic committees, the Local Government and Environment Committee.

This Committee is currently dealing with two highly contentious pieces of legislation – .the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill and the Local Government Amendment Bill.

Both are major pieces of legislation, touted by the Government as evidence of its reforming zeal to make New Zealand a more efficient country.

Both have hit the wall because neither really addresses the big issues that confront the country as it works out how to manage resources and how to pay for that management.

At the same time lurking behind each one is the question raised by the Hobson’s Pledge campaign about what the role of Maori will be in a post-Treaty settlement society.

What links all this legislation and debate together is that it is all about the process of governance; who has what power and where does the ordinary punter fit into the decision-making equation.

For that reason, these are arguably the most important constitutional debates we have had since the introduction of MMP.

Read more »

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Time for some good old Key pragmatism: ditch the RMA reform until 2018

The Government’s plan to modernise the Resource Management Act appeared yesterday to be have hit the wall.

Meetings at Parliament next week to sign off revisions to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill — which amends the RMA —have had to be cancelled.

Labour says that’s because the Cabinet cannot agree on what the changes should be.

The meetings were additional ones for the Local Government and Environment Committee which was to have considered an officials’ report on changes to the original RLA Bill.

This is a highly contentious piece of legislation which seeks to implement iwi participation agreements and strips back the notification and appeal process for resource consents.

It also establishes new “collaborative planning processes” but the Committee has heard a lengthy parade of objections to various bits of the Bill.

It was promoted with much fanfare in the first place last November by Environment Minister Nick Smith who said the 180 page Bill was about reducing the bureaucracy “that gets in the way of creating jobs, building houses, and good environmental management.”

“ It provides for greater national consistency, more responsive plannin Read more »

Dunedin Council axes wind farm

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Whaleoil covered this story two months ago:

The battle lines have been drawn on a wind farm project that has “polarised” Blueskin Bay.

The depth of feeling about the project was highlighted by the packed public gallery at yesterday’s resource consent hearing for Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust’s (BRCT) $5million to $6million proposal to build three wind turbines on Porteous Hill, north of Dunedin.

The hearing began with a blow to the BRCT as council planner Darryl Sycamore no longer recommended consent be approved.

He said he was reserving his position until the end of the hearing, given the trust had made changes to the proposal.

The changes included reducing the maximum height of the wind turbines to 90m from the original 125m.

Worries about birds striking turbines, noise and health were among the issues brought up yesterday, but a key concern was around the impact on the area’s landscape.

The trust and its supporters said any negative effects would be more than made up for by the benefits, including reducing New Zealand’s reliance on carbon-producing power plants.

Thank goodness the Dunedin City Council didn’t believe a bar of it.   Read more »

Auckland Council is dodgier than a 6-day-old chicken curry

Guest Post

It’s widely known that they flout the law and do whatever they want. And it’s also widely known that the Council deliberately work against property developers to screw the scrum where it concerns Resource Consent Applications.

Most of the time property developers grin and bear the pain and get on with things quietly. More often than not, however, they get strong armed by Council holding them to ransom. A consent approval in return for something Council want that will cost a fortune.

Before you say ‘cry me a river’ understand that Council are breaking the law. And the more often they get away with it the more they are likely to do it to you if the opportunity presents itself.

There are limitations on a Council’s power under the RMA. A Council can’t do whatever they want.

Firstly, there is the law (legislation) and then there is the interpretation of the law (case law), which occurs when matters end up in the Court for a ruling. An interpretation of the law by a judge results.

What should happen subsequently is that the all Councils – when dealing with similar issues in the future – should abide by the ruling of the Court as a precedent. The law is set – so follow it.

But they don’t. What Councils do is ignore the law because nobody polices the Councils and they can get away with it.  Read more »

Sledge of the Day

John Key sledges out Grant Robertson.

It’s a bit rich of Robbo to moan about juvenile politicking as he’s one of the worst.   Read more »

Here’s some news: all our water is in the wrong place

This will not come as a surprise to anyone.  And to whine about it in a severe El Niño year is a bit precious.

Despite the weekend’s deluge in the north, summer is barely a month old and already some regions are running low on drinking water. Supplies for farm animals and crops are being rationed.

Trucks are delivering water to parched vineyards in Marlborough. As river levels dip in the hottest months, water quality falls. Warning signs beside freshwater lagoons at Piha, Karekare and Bethells because of overloaded septic tanks are a familiar summer sight.

Toxic algae has been detected at 15 freshwater sites in Canterbury. North of Christchurch, people who draw water from rural supplies with shallow intakes must permanently boil water used for drinking, oral hygiene and food preparation.

The pattern is repeated most years. In all likelihood, the task of ensuring towns and cities – and the countryside – have access to clean and sufficient water, as well as water for recreation, is certain to become a pressing issue. It begs questions whether communities are adequately prepared to cope with water supply stresses, and whether agencies which manage fresh water are on top of their game.

Yes, the signs are repeated every year, but not the the same locations.  This is related to the long narrow shape of our country, and the “great divide” keeping weather on one or the other side of it – depending predominantly on El Niño or La Niña patterns.   Read more »

Here’s a worry: The left supports National’s RMA bill, the right doesn’t

The government has been slapping themselves on the back that they are going to get their RMA ‘reform’ through the parliament with Labour support.

Peter Dunne is problematic, but Act is now upset as well with the lacklustre reforms.

The Government has failed to get the backing of two of its support partners for major planning reforms but has still been able to progress the law changes with votes from the Maori Party and Labour.

The Act Party and United Future voted against the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill this afternoon at its first reading.

The long-awaited reforms aim to simplify planning rules and make them more consistent around the country, involve iwi more in planning decisions, and place greater emphasis on the supply of housing.   Read more »

Green Taliban: RMA reforms will “lock people out”

Yes.  That’s the whole bloody point.  To allow people to develop their properties without others trying to run the country by committee.

The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.

The Government has finally secured the numbers to change the legislation after getting the backing of the Maori Party.

The proposed changes are expected to reduce unnecessary red tape and speed up construction, which could help ease Auckland’s desperate housing market.

But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.

“The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say,” Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.

And those make a huge mess.   Not only that, the costs, the delays and the waste of productivity in general it causes is disproportionate.    Read more »

Wherefore art thou, RMA reform?

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It’s been held up since the Northland by-election in March, which robbed the government of a vote.

Before the by-election it could have got the bill through with just ACT’s support, but now it needs either United Future or the Maori Party for a majority.

Peter Dunne and the Maori Party have problems with the extensive reforms the government wanted to bring in, meaning the government’s had to negotiate. Read more »

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