Policies and Plans

Policies and Plans

It is interesting to see on the Stuff website that the Waipa District Council has tripped itself up on plans to earn millions harvesting a forestry block owned by council.

It now has to ask itself for permission (i.e. apply for a resource consent) to harvest this forestry block which will cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The harvest of 36 hectares of council-owned forestry plantation has been delayed because the district plan now classifies the block as part of a significant natural area.

This situation has come about because council environmental/planning staff decided it was part of the significant natural area on Mt Pirongia and needed to be mapped and included in their plans without consulting other council staff.

The anomaly was discovered in June and reported to the council’s finance and corporate committee by the council’s property service manager Bruce Nunns, in August who told the committee that significant natural areas were mapped as part of the district plan review in 2017.

With this change to the district plan in 2017, the Pirongia Mountain including council’s forestry blocks were classified as a significant natural area and there is now a requirement to obtain resource consent to undertake the harvest.

Any resource consent application would more than likely need to be outsourced at an increased cost due to conflict of interest issues for Council.

News of the classification had councillors scratching their heads and asking how a forestry block could become a significant natural area and Nunns reminded the councillors it was their own district plan that had landed the council in the present situation.

Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said that it is quite ridiculous that a forest block is caught up in a significant natural area, and that the council should be alert to the regulations in the district plan versus the “economic costs” involved in applying for resource consent, to ensure they don’t shoot themselves in the foot.

Whilst we may feel sorry for the ratepayers of the Waipa District who will face reduced income from the forestry operations, this is just a small example of a much bigger problem faced by rural land owners under this requirement to map all SNA’s.

Maybe this will give the councillors a bit better understanding of how their decision making can impact on others and the unforeseen economic impacts that can come from such decision making.

The methods that the councils are using to set these policies in place evidently aren’t working? They should ask the people who are going to have to comply with these policies and plans, how to achieve the outcomes that the government wants?

We are being told to innovate and think smarter about how to make New Zealand and the world a better place. Well why not allow us to innovate to get the outcome that you all want without telling us how. All that is happening is that it is driving the cost of business up and New Zealand is the loser?

Peter Buckley