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Home arrow Events arrow Submission by NSaPS to the 2007-08 WDC Draft Annual Plan
Submission by NSaPS to the 2007-08 WDC Draft Annual Plan PDF Print
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Written by Gloria Bruni   
Saturday, 05 May 2007

First NSaPS would like to acknowledge the huge amount of thought and effort that has gone into this Draft Annual Plan and to express our appreciation for the work done by Whangarei District Councillors and the Council Staff. NSaPS applauds the programme of work planned by the Council for the coming year in Ngunguru and other communities. We do, however, have suggestions that we think will make the plan even better.

P. 16 New Water Source

We commend the Council's forward planning for Whangarei's future water needs. Water is particularly important as regards just how large Whangarei should be allowed to grow.

However, we are concerned about the welfare of the Ngunguru River and whether it can be tapped for Whangarei town supply without damaging or destroying it as a river system.

We therefore ask that the Council include funding in the budget 2007-08 for a study of the present state of the Ngunguru River and of the impacts on the river of the water-taking contemplated by the Council. Such a study needs to include ecology, hydrology, effects of lowering the level, and siltation issues.

We ask that information gathered by this study be shared with the Glenbervie, Kiripaka and Ngunguru communities before any further feasibility work is undertaken.

Further, given the damage to the river in the recent flood event (28,29 March), and given that much damage was the result of neglected river maintenance; we ask the Council to liaise with NRC on a plan for better maintenance of the river bed and edges. The current passive approach to maintenance is not acceptable treatment of a water resource, leads to more severe flood damage, and damages the ecological well-being of the river. (Similar sorts of work envisaged by the Draft Plan, and which we commend include: planting river margins on the Hatea River and Waiarohia and Otangarei Streams and dredging of the Hatea river).

There will be an on-going need for "New Water Sources" and for that reason NSaPS urges WDC to add roof collected water to the planned future water supply. This should be done by making water tanks (of suitable volume for the size of a dwelling) a requirement of consent/permit process for all new construction. Initially this should happen in areas where there is no reticulated water, but in time should apply to all areas.

Modern tanks, fittings and filters can assure a very high level of water quality. Besides easing costs of reticulating water and reducing the problem of high-volume storm water, this time-tested system also protects the community against failure of a centralized water system caused by natural disaster or other emergency. We should not have all our "water-eggs" in one central basket.

P. 17 Resource Consents & Compliance - Monitoring

Monitoring is potentially the weakest link in the planning process and must be adequately funded to be effective. NSaPS asks the Council to ensure that the budget for Monitoring is sufficient to achieve the Council's stated aim of "improving the quality of performance standards of resource consents and the District Plan."

A conspicuous weakness in the goal of ensuring development is compliant with the District Plan is the lack of self-monitoring by sub-contractors doing work for the Council. Soil from the Ngunguru Rd upgrade being dumped in a riverine wetland being a recent example.

NSaPS requests that Council contracts be written with specific cautions in the negative, e.g. "Spoil will not be dumped in . . .", the blank being filled in on the basis of the planner's knowledge of the particular environment. Or failing that, based on local consultation.

Thus leaving room for ad hoc arrangements, which may work to the advantage of locals and the Council (in cost savings and goodwill) but will bar violations of good practice which place the Council in the position of environmental vandal.

Monitoring is particularly important where Council has permitted narrowly defined development in a very sensitive environment. Middens, once bulldozed, and venerable specimen trees, once cut cannot be repaired. NSaPS asks Council for better provision of contractual clauses and monitoring to whatever level is required to prevent cuttings as wide as 9 meters being made where canopy was not to be opened (as we now see on Whakairiora) and similar catastrophic breaches of "performance standards".

(P.43 "We will ensure that areas of natural or cultural value will be protected as part of any development. We will apply legal mechanisms as part of resource consents to protect items of value or significance.")

P. 17/44 Environmental Planning - Structure Planning

NSaPS is delighted that the New District Plan is at last in place and looks forward to the much-needed Coastal Management Policy helping to clarify for would-be developers the limits on their activity. We believe the Ngunguru Structure Plan is largely complete and that it could be notified in 2007-08. We ask that the Council allow the Draft Ngunguru Structure Plan to influence planning decisions regarding coastal development in Ngunguru in the period until it is signed off; using the precedent of gradually increasing influence and implementation of the Whangarei District Plan up to the date when it was signed off. Thus affording the Ngunguru community some long awaited protection from indiscriminate, often inappropriate development.

Further, NSaPS asks Council, and by Council's instruction Council Planners, to carefully assess the National Hazardscape Report as data becomes available. We confidently expect Council to use this research data to put in place appropriate planning restrictions.

We further expect Council and staff to have regard to hazard date when making individual planning decisions.

NSaPS asks Council to ensure that Hazardscape data is regularly, clearly and consistently disseminated to the public. Not only to improve decisions about where to build, but to bolster Council's stated concern for the first two of the four Rs (reduction and readiness) and ". . . greater self-reliance in the community and prompt effective recovery in the event of a disaster." -as set out on p.31

More attention given to Hazardscape information in planning and permitting will surely result in lower costs to ratepayers in emergency services and repairs. Additional reduced costs might be expected as a result of reduced liability for ill-informed permits and resultant unsafe compliance documents.

P. 44 Environmental Planning - Strategic Planning Studies

NSaPS would like to request an additional study be undertaken as part of the Strategic Planning Studies. We ask the Council to fund an examination of how WDC can work collaboratively with NRC and a Community Trust to manage a coastal regional park or reserve.

Consideration should be given to what part Designation might play in acquisition of land in private ownership for such a park or reserve. This concept study would ready the Council for the inevitable creation of such a park or reserve.

Results of this study should be made available to interested community groups (TCR&R, NSaPS, Tutukaka Tourist Promotion) upon its completion.

P. 17 Environmental Planning - Growth Model

NSaPS notes with interest the Growth Model being developed and used by Whangarei District Council. Models can be useful in the ways described in the Draft Annual Plan but they are always limited by the information put into them. We urge the Council to include those elements of information, which will tell planners at what point growth should stop. There will be such a point, and it is important that it is recognized and planned for.

P. 17/p. 44 Environmental Planning - Genetic Engineering/Biodiversity Strategy

We note with great pleasure the inclusion of a Biodiversity Strategy study in the list of Strategic Planning studies. Likewise the specific goals (p. 40) set for weed-free areas in the District. The Council's adoption of a precautionary approach to GMOs will enhance both of these elements.

We are aware that pressure from various directions make a firm stand regarding GMOs challenging and we applaud the Council taking that firm stand. Liability alone is sufficient to justify the Council's position, but the many other issues mentioned in the Draft Annual Plan add incalculable weight to your position. We ask the Council to preserve its resolution and to provide the necessary funding to adequately monitor GMO risks.

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