23 July 2009
Warren & Patricia Slater
Dear Mr & Mrs Slater
SUBMISSION TO THE DRAFT NORTHLAND COMMUNITY PLAN 2009-2019
Thank you for your submission to the Northland Regional Council's Draft Northland Community Plan.
The Council met to hear and consider all submissions between 21 and 26 May 2009 and made many changes to the Plan as a result.
I have been asked to respond to the issue/s raised in your submission as follows:
Stock Truck Effluent Disposal
The Council has resolved to contribute to the provision of two stock truck effluent disposal sites, one in the Kaipara District and one in the Far North District. Construction of these facilities will complement the new sites currently under construction at Whangarei and Wellsford.
In recent years, many carriers have installed larger holding tanks, however the capacity of these is compromised by Northland's tropical climate, and can fill after one rainfall, leading to spillages particularly on hilly terrain. Feedback from farmers indicates they are often not able to stand stock for an adequate period of time due to the notice of pick up given by the processing plants, who in turn are operating to tight export order deadlines.
Provision of these sites will not only reduce the incidence of illegal discharges, but will also improve road safety and promote public and environmental health.
Your support for the Council’s efforts to mitigate flood risk has been noted and the Council will continue to undertake its programme for the Priority Rivers to investigate flood risk and ways to reduce risk. We look forward to completing river management plans for the Priority Rivers in 2010 and following this will prioritise outcomes for implementation.
The Council remains fully committed to its precautionary approach. The wording as requested will not be retained and new wording has been provided in the Long Term Community Plan (LTCCP).
The Council will not be contributing to the survey.
The Council remains fully committed to its precautionary approach. The Council has put on hold changes to its Regional Policy Statement until the shape and form of the Resource Management Act amendments are determined.
The Council has not changed its policy approach to putting its precautionary approach in the Regional Policy Statement.
The Council has set aside a contingency fund of $10,000 so that it can make representation to ERMA on applications. The Council will employ suitable experts to help it in its representation.
The Council will support its precautionary approach in a proactive manner and will continue to lobby government to ensure that the appropriate changes are made to ERMA.
The Council will not be instigating a total prohibition on GE or aquaculture.
Council agrees with your viewpoint on the importance of electricity to the region's future. We have and will continue to be vigilant on this subject and be actively engaged in lobbying to ensure there is appropriate investment in the infrastructure.
Dredging Hatea River
Thank you for your support for the ongoing programme of maintenance dredging for the Hatea River Channel. Last year’s initial dredging and aid to navigation upgrade was very successful and it is pleasing for Council to receive community support to fund any ongoing maintenance of the channel that may become necessary in the future. Please be advised that there is no scientifically proven link between channel dredging and flood reduction.
Your support for the council's commitment to ensuring that Northland has the benefit of a world class broadband network is appreciated. The council will continue to lobby government on the need to adequately resource broadband in rural areas of the region.
Rescue Helicopter Services Rate
The Council has decided to strike the Rescue Helicopter Services Rate. The Council was persuaded by the quality and content of the technical evidence presented to it, particularly the evidence of professionals working in the rescue and emergency services area. Funding provided to Northland Emergency Services Trust will be made subject to due diligence and further discussions with central government.
Sustainable Water Allocation
Yours was one of more than 100 submissions on sustainable water allocation. After careful consideration of these submissions, the Council has decided to:
• Update and implement a more rigorous water allocation regime. (This is designed to both protect Northland’s water resources and provide water users with a reliable/secure supply); and
• Charge consented water users to recover part of the cost of running the Council’s hydrometric network. (This network monitors surface water flow/levels, groundwater levels and rainfall throughout Northland.)
Water allocation regime
During the submission and hearings process, a number of submitters questioned the need for a more rigorous water allocation regime and expressed a belief that their existing resource consents effectively guaranteed them security of supply.
Unfortunately, many areas of Northland are already subject to high allocation rates and are under increasing pressure. (For more information, please visit www.nrc.govt.nz/soeallocation). A more stringent water allocation regime will benefit all users – present and new – by preventing future over allocation.
In a similar vein, resource consents do not guarantee security of supply unless there are allocation limits/policy within a catchment. (For example, as more water is allocated from a catchment, restrictions become more common as there is less water available to existing users.)
Please note, although the Council has decided to implement a more rigorous regime, the final shape of this is still several years away and will only be determined after further widespread consultation with existing water users.
The Council believes this approach is preferable as it will enable the Council and Northlanders to work together to develop and implement their own water allocation limits. The alternative is that Central Government imposes ‘default’ national limits on the region, which may not be appropriate for Northland’s catchments.
General ratepayers (including those taking water for domestic needs) will continue to meet about 85% of the cost of operating the Council’s hydrometric network over the next 12 months.
However, the remaining 15% (about $75,000) will now be recovered from the new user charge which the Council has decided to impose on consent holders. This charge is in line with those imposed by similar-sized councils and reflects the fact that consent holders both contribute to the need for the hydrometric network and benefit from the monitoring undertaken.
New Transport Rate
The Council has resolved to strike the fixed Targeted Transport Rate at $12.83 per separately used and inhabited parts of each property in the Whangarei District. The Whangarei District Council previously paid to this Council money collected through its general rate to fund the Whangarei City bus service. It is therefore true that the rate does not represent a funding increase by this Council.
The average monthly patronage of the CityLink bus service is over 22,000 passengers per month, with usage trends showing a steady increase in passenger numbers since the introduction of this service. The CityLink bus service is funded by three parties: the fare paying passengers, the Northland Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency. When the CityLink service was introduced in July 2008, a 50% fare increase was also implemented. In 2009-2010, the total projected cost of the contract is $1,539,700, with fare revenue projected to provide $678,000, leaving a local funding requirement of $425,000 and the New Zealand Transport Agency Subsidy of $425,000. Council, through its contracted City of Whangarei Bus Service Sub Committee, continually reviews opportunities to improve CityLink’s levels of service to Whangarei residents. Council thanks you for your support in this area.
The Regional Council recognises the effects of sewage discharges on the ability of people to exercise their customary use of shellfish resources. The discharge of untreated sewage from reticulation networks is a complex matter and a whole of Council approach is required to deal with the issue. Initiatives are being undertaken at various levels to improve performance in this area and are summarised below.
The Regional Council is currently taking this matter up at the planning level with the various District Councils. The Regional Council has made submissions to each of the LTCCP’s urging them to adequately fund sewage infrastructure.
The discharge of untreated sewage from pump stations is not a prohibited activity under the Council’s policies and as such District Council’s can make applications to legalise such discharges, although this does not guarantee that such applications will be granted. Where applications are received the Regional Council is obliged by law to process these. Discharges such as those from Okara Park are presently being dealt with through the consenting process. Issuing of consents, if considered appropriate, can be a good mechanism where upgrades can be required to ensure a reduction in sewage overflows.
All significant unconsented sewage overflows are investigated and where the evidence warrants it, formal enforcement action is considered by Regional Council. The penalties are determined by the Court or by statute. The Regional Council has taken prosecutions for unauthorised discharges of sewage.
In addition to the above Regional Council staff work with the District Council’s at all levels to improve management of sewage reticulation systems. Mechanisms such as the Sewage Accord are used for this. Regular meetings are held to develop a number of strategies aimed at improving performance in the area of sewage management in the Region.
Pressure from the Regional Council and Community on the District Council has already shown results with a significant improvement in the planned funding allocated to the reduction of sewage overflows.
Council Controlled Organisation (Shared Services)
The Northland Regional Council, along with a consortium of five other regional council’s have all resolved to establish a council-controlled organisation for the purposes of collaboratively developing and maintaining a software application suite for use by regional councils in the delivery of their activities. The application suite to be developed has been called IRIS – Integrated Regional Information Software.
Northland Events Centre
In agreeing to fund the Events Centre, the council made it clear that it had to be designed to accommodate a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. It also imposed a condition that its contribution would be a "one-off" one and has made it clear that it will not fund any on-going maintenance costs or losses. Accordingly the concerns raised in your submission are being met.
Marsden Point Rail Link
Council acknowledges your support of Council efforts to help secure the Marsden Point Rail Link Designation.
Other Recreational Facilities Rate
During the previous three financial years, as part of the Northland Regional Recreational Facilities Rate, the Council collected $5.63 (including GST) from the ratepayers in the Northland Region to be used to develop other recreational facilities throughout the region. The Council has resolved to no longer collect this share of the Recreational Facilities Rate at this time.
Thank you once again for taking the trouble to let the Council know your views on the direction the Council is taking. A copy of the final Plan is available on the Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/ltccp or on CD. Hard copies are also available on request from any Regional Council Office.
Local Government Project Manager