Rating the Councils

June 11, 2009

The Ministry for the Environment’s two yearly Resource Management Act survey of local authorities showed a big difference in performance among councils.

In 2007/8: 

  • 51,960 resource consent applications were processed through to a decision.
  • 0.74 per cent (385) of resource consent applications were declined.
  • 4.7 per cent (2409) of resource consent applications were publicly notified.
  • 1.9 per cent (975) of resource consent applications were notified to affected parties only (limited notification).
  • 69 per cent of resource consent applications were processed on time.

The councils which were best at processing consents on time were:

Stratford District Council processed 97 applications and 100% were processed on time.

Buller District Council 130 – 100%

Taranaki Regional Council 401 – 100%

Matamata Piako District Council 281 – 99%

Waitaki District Council 157 – 99%

Kapiti District Council 317 – 99%

Western Bay of Plenty District Council 431 – 99%

Northland Regional Council 904 – 99%

Wellington Regional Council 703 – 99%

The worst performing were:

Environment Canterbury which processed 3,374 applications and managed only 29% on time.

Westland District Council 183 – 30%

Far North District Council 609 – 37%

Waimate District Council 70 – 41%

Carterton District Council 106 – 42%

Auckland City Council  5,434 – 45%

Whakatane District Council 287 – 45%

Gisborne District Council 525 – 50%

The Waitaki District lies within the boundaries of two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council.

Anecdotal evidence which points to major frustrations with Canterbury and fewer problems with Otago is supported by this report. Environment Canterbury was the worst in the country at processing consents  on time and Otago which processed 734 managed to do 67% on time.

The table with results for all councils is at the link above.

The full report is here.


Homeward Bound

June 11, 2009

Simon & Garfunkel are Homeward Bound.


RMA needs change in law and practice

June 11, 2009

Solving problems with the Resource Management Act require changes in both law and practice, Environment Minister Nick Smith said.

He was commenting on the release of the two-yearly report on local authorities’ administration of the RMA.

“This report tells a sorry story of delay, frustration and unnecessary costs for more than 16,000 homeowners, businesses and farmers whose consents last year were not processed within the legal timeframes,” Dr Smith said.
 

“This problem has been ignored and got progressively worse over the past decade increasing from 18% to 31%, despite a nine-fold increase from 3% to 28% in consents where Councils granted themselves a 20-day extension.”

It’s not just a problem of  direct costs to applicants and ratepayers, it’s the indirect costs to the country because these delays hamper economic growth.

The Resource Management Reform Bill aims to simplify the consent process and give councils incentives to improve the time it takes to deal with applications.

“The wide variation in the performance of Councils shows that practice can be substantially improved. Eight councils who are breaching the law more often than they are complying are receiving a letter from me seeking improvements. I have also written to the 25 councils with 90% or better compliance commending them on their performance.

“I also want to commend Councils for the improvement in the proportion of consents being monitored – that is up to 79%, and for the 84% level of compliance with consent conditions which is a record high.

“The efficient processing of resource consents is critical to lifting productivity and the creation of new jobs. This report is a wake-up call that significant improvement is required.”

The basic premise and aims of the RMA are good, but changes in some of its clauses and improved performance by under-performing councils is essential to improve productivity while safeguarding the environment.


OCR unchanged

June 11, 2009

The Reserve Bank has left the Official Cash Rate unchanged.

This won’t impress the politicians who criticised trading banks for not dropping their interests rates.

But because we’re not good at saving ourselves our banks have to borrow money off-shore which makes the OCR only one of the factors affecting interest rates.

The media release isn’t on the Reserve Bank website yet so I’ve copied it below the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Colour me purple naturally

June 11, 2009

The purple carrot, prized in ancient times for dying royal robes, is set for a come-back because of its potential to provide a natural dye for food.

Researchers in California are preparing for increased demand for fruits and vegetables that pull double duty as dyes as the deadline approaches for when the European Union will require warning labels on synthetically coloured foods.

“There’s a mad dash in Europe to get synthetic dyes out and put natural ones in, and it’s coming across the Atlantic,” said Stephen Lauro, general manager of ColorMaker in Anaheim, which turns beets, berries, cabbages and carrots into dyes for products such as Gerber toddler foods and Tang breakfast drink. “It was dumb luck and we stepped into it.”

Petroleum-based synthetic dyes approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration commonly have been used in processed foods to help them mimic the product they are supposed to represent – for example, the red in some fast-food strawberry sundaes.

I’m not a member of the if it’s natural it’s good, if it’s synthetic it’s bad school. But the idea of food coloured by dye from carrots, beets, berries or cabbages is a lot more appealing than the idea of food coloured by dyes based on petrol.

The FDA doesn’t give its approval lightly, and it will be based on science but emotion rules here. Driving cars on vegetable based fuels sounds fine, fuelling people on petrol is a much harder sell.


Halal cert row religion or non tariff barrier?

June 11, 2009

New Zealand’s $600 million trade in meat and dairy products is threatened by Indonesia’s October 1 deadline for New Zealand to provide satisfactory halal certification.

Without the certification meat and dairy products won’t  be able to be exported to Indonesia.

Is this about religion or is it a non-tariff barrier?


June 11 in history

June 11, 2009

On June 11:

In 1509 Henry VIII married Catherine of Arogan.

In 1911 New Zealand annexed the Cook Islands.

In 1910 Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau
 

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