Archive | Environment Canterbury

Law passed for ECan’s transition to elected council

Legislation for a 2-stage transition of Environment Canterbury (ECan) back to being an elected council passed its third reading in Parliament last week.

The Government appointed commissioners to replace ECan members in 2010 after a critical external review of its performance. Legislation empowering the governance arrangements said their term was to end at the local body elections in 2013.

7 councillors will be elected this October to work alongside 6 appointed councillors, before moving to a fully elected council in 2019.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said: “The commissioners have done an outstanding job of progressing the plans required to properly manage freshwater, rebuilding the organisation, strengthening its relationships with the 10 councils across Canterbury and supporting the earthquake recovery.

“This transition is important in maintaining continuity and the momentum of ECan in areas such as the earthquake recovery, the completion of catchment water plans and its work in regional economic development.”

Dr Smith said the transition was particularly important in respect of freshwater management: “Canterbury had no operative regional plan in 2010, nor any limits on intensification & nutrients. It was a huge step forward when the commission completed the regional water plan. The key to its success is in completing zone plans in each of Canterbury’s 10 catchments. This task is do-able with the transitional mixed governance model & special streamlined planning process provided for in this bill.

“This pragmatic transition for ECan is about supporting Canterbury’s move from earthquake recovery to regeneration, and getting the foundations right for the long-term management of the region’s freshwater resources.”

Earlier stories:
10 July 2015: Full ECan elections to come in 2019
23 March 2015: 
Government thinks semi-democratic for Environment Canterbury
7 September 2012: 
Ministers rate efficiency above democracy as they extend Environment Canterbury commissioners’ role
18 November 2009: 
2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Smith cites ECan water collaboration as example to repeat

Collaboration on water management in Canterbury may be followed by a similar approach on biodiversity.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said on Friday Canterbury’s experience of collaboration on water was being published to help other regions & communities run their own collaborative planning processes.

Dr Smith said at the report’s launch in Christchurch: “This report reinforces the benefits of a more collaborative approach to the challenge of improving freshwater management. The staff & zone committees of Environment Canterbury have made more progress on freshwater over the past 5 years than in any other part of the country by getting all of the parties with an interest in water engaged in the rules & initiatives needed to better manage Canterbury’s water.

“The staff of Environment Canterbury share not only their successes in this report, but they also acknowledge their struggles & challenges to demonstrate that, while it’s not always easy, it’s worth it. The report shows that collaborative processes are not just about coming to an agreement – they also provide an opportunity to strengthen the wider community and define the future of their region through the sustainable, long-term decisions that are made.

“Freshwater management is not the only area that stands to gain from using a collaborative approach. I have previously suggested a collaborative approach to developing a national policy statement on biodiversity. This is another contentious environmental issue which to date has been unable to be progressed, and I see a role for a tight collaborative process involving farmers & conservationists. The experience will have much to offer by way of guidance.”

Links: Environment Canterbury, Canterbury water management strategy report
Environment Canterbury

Earlier stories:
10 July 2015: Full ECan elections to come in 2019
23 March 2015: 
Government thinks semi-democratic for Environment Canterbury
7 September 2012: 
Ministers rate efficiency above democracy as they extend Environment Canterbury commissioners’ role
18 November 2009: 
2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Full ECan elections to come in 2019

The Government has settled on a mixed elected/appointed model for Environment Canterbury to be selected next year, and for the council to be fully elected in 2019 – 10 years after commissioners were put in place.

The central issue for the Government has been water management. Environment Minister Nick Smith said on Wednesday this had been greatly improved under the commissioners.

At next year’s local body elections, Environment Canterbury will have 8 elected members, 7 appointed, and all the members will vote on who should be chair & deputy.

Dr Smith said a majority of Canterbury’s 10 territorial councils had supported this model provided the transition to a fully elected council was made in 2019.

“Environment Canterbury has made huge progress in developing a comprehensive water plan, supporting the earthquake recovery and in rebuilding relationships with the region’s 10 council,” he said.

“Improved water management remains at the core of the Government’s decisions on ECan, with the region having half the nation’s water take and a third of the region’s hydro-electric generation, and some of the most challenging issues over nutrient management & water quality.

“The commissioners have made huge progress, taking Canterbury from being a laggard to a leader in setting limits on water takes & nutrients. The special powers that enabled commissioners to impose moratoria on water takes and manage water conservation orders are no longer required and will lapse in October 2016. The mixed governance council will retain the limited appeals on plan changes until 2019 to enable the rules to be finalised in each of the zones of the Canterbury land & water regional plan.”

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston said: “The mixed model will also help maintain the strong relationships that have been built between ECan & Ngai Tahu & the Canterbury councils. The people of Canterbury need certainty & continued stable governance to deal with the unique challenges of freshwater management &the earthquake recovery.”

The decisions the ministers announced will be included in a bill to be referred to the local government & environment select committee. The public will have another opportunity to make submissions this year.

Earlier stories:
23 March 2015: Government thinks semi-democratic for Environment Canterbury
7 September 2012: Ministers rate efficiency above democracy as they extend Environment Canterbury commissioners’ role
18 November 2009: 2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Government thinks semi-democratic for Environment Canterbury

The Government proposed a semi-democratic model last week for Environment Canterbury – 7 elected members, 6 Government appointees – and has put its proposal out for public consultation, closing on Friday 1 May.

Under the proposal by Environment Minister Nick Smith & Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston, the election for 7 members would take place at the October 2016 local body elections.

The Government began investigating Environment Canterbury’s performance in 2009 and appointed commissioners to run it in 2010. Dr Smith said then: “A key concern of the Government has been the lack of a resource management plan for water in Canterbury and that is why completing a plan has been made an urgent priority in the terms of reference.”

He said last week: “This proposal enables a majority of elected representatives while ensuring continued momentum on the Canterbury water management strategy & earthquake recovery work.”

The ministers said in a statement: “We believe the mixed governance model is right for Environment Canterbury at this time. It has provided a successful model for district health boards. It enables a local democratic say while also ensuring stability and the specialist skills to deal with the very challenging issues, including water & earthquake recovery.

“The commissioners have done an outstanding job in addressing the acute governance problems identified in the independent review of Environment Canterbury in 2010. While Canterbury had no water plan then, it now has the most comprehensive of any region in New Zealand.

“The commissioners have successfully rebuilt good working relationships with all 10 councils and with Ngai Tahu. Where Canterbury had the worst record of any council in 2010, with 71% of consents exceeding statutory timeframes, this is now down to just 5%. It speaks volumes that Environment Canterbury in 2014 received the Institute of Public Administration’s top excellence in regulatory systems award.

“It is essential for Canterbury’s future that we maintain the strong working relationships between councils that the commissioners have led. That is why we met with all 10 mayors last month on this proposal and why we will be meeting with all 10 Canterbury councils across the region before the Government makes final decisions.

“We considered other options of a fully elected council and alternatives that involved substantive changes to council functions. Our preliminary view is that these carry too many risks given the critical stage of work on the Canterbury water management strategy and the earthquake recovery. It may be appropriate to consider these options beyond 2019.”

Having Government-appointed commissioners in charge has enabled irrigation schemes to be put in place, helping farmers but raising the ire of opponents who have questioned environmental standards.

Link: Discussion document

Earlier stories:
27 June 2014: Discussion document on Environment Canterbury deferred until after general election
7 September 2012: Ministers rate efficiency above democracy as they extend Environment Canterbury commissioners’ role
22 April 2010: Smith & Hide name their Environment Canterbury commissioners
18 November 2009: 2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

Attribution: Ministerial release, local comments.

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Discussion document on Environment Canterbury deferred until after general election

Governance of Environment Canterbury will stay with Government-appointed commissioners until the final scope of a review is released in October-November.

The Government appointed commissioners to replace the elected members in 2010 following a critical external review of Environment Canterbury’s performance, and extended that appointed governance last year until 2016, “to continue the progress the commissioners have made”.

The Government built a review of the arrangements into the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners & Improved Water Management) Amendment Bill 2010 when it was amended to ensure Canterbury’s future regional governance arrangements could be carefully considered.

The review is on the future requirements for Environment Canterbury’s governance, membership & resource management arrangements when the current commissioners finish their term in 2016.

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett and Environment Minister Amy Adams said yesterday the review, which started in March, had focused on discussions with the Canterbury Mayoral Forum & commissioners to inform the scope of a discussion document for wider public consultation.

The ministers said the next steps in the review would be to continue to liaise with key stakeholders ahead of the release of that discussion document: “Given the close proximity of the general election, any decisions would be made by the next government, so it is appropriate to let the final scope of the document be determined post-election by the incoming government,” they said.

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Environment Canterbury governance review starts

The Government has begun a review of the governance arrangements of Environment Canterbury, which had commissioners appointed to replace the councillors in 2010 following a critical external review of its performance.

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett and Environment Minister Amy Adams said on Monday the review should be completed by December.

Commissioner governance was extended last year until 2016 “to protect the gains the commissioners have made”.

A review of the arrangements, starting on 1 March 2014, was built into the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners & Improved Water Management) Amendment Bill 2010 when it was recently amended.

Ms Adams said the commissioners, headed by Dame Margaret Bazley, had proved highly effective: “There have been significant improvements in the establishment of local relationships, freshwater management & resource consent timelines.

“As Christchurch & the Canterbury region continue to recover from the devastating earthquakes, we need to provide ongoing social & economic stability.”

The Government will release a discussion document and the review will include discussions with key stakeholders and public consultation. It will also cover Environment Canterbury’s relationship with territorial authorities in Canterbury and with Ngai Tahu, and its role in Canterbury earthquake recovery.

The review will be carried out jointly by the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry for the Environment.

Link: Environment Canterbury review

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Ministers rate efficiency above democracy as they extend Environment Canterbury commissioners’ role

Published 7 September 2012

Local Government Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Amy Adams said today commissioners would continue to govern Environment Canterbury until 2016.

The Government appointed commissioners to replace Environment Canterbury members in 2010 after a critical external review of Environment Canterbury’s performance. Legislation empowering the governance arrangements said their term was to end at the local body elections in 2013.

However, Mr Carter said today: “The commissioners, under the leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley, have proved highly effective in addressing urgent problems with water management in Canterbury and in rebuilding key stakeholder relationships.

“Their strong governance through the earthquake response & rebuild planning has been excellent and it is vital that this work continues. The disruption caused by the earthquakes has made the Canterbury situation unique, and the focus must now be on ensuring the region can maximise its full economic potential as Christchurch rebuilds.

“In the interests of Canterbury’s progress and to protect the gains the commissioners have made, the Government has decided the best option is to continue with the current governance arrangement.”

He intended to table a bill in Parliament today amending the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners & Improved Water Management) Act 2010, to extend commissioner governance until the 2016 local body elections, with a ministerial review in 2014.

Ms Adams said: “It is imperative that Canterbury’s freshwater resources continue to be managed & governed effectively. “The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges. It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective & efficient

“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend to retain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans & policy statements relating to freshwater management.”

Link: Further detail

Earlier stories:

22 April 2010: Smith & Hide name their Environment Canterbury commissioners

18 November 2009: 2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Smith & Hide name their Environment Canterbury commissioners

Published 22 April 2010

Environment Minister Nick Smith & Local Government Minister Rodney Hide named their commissioners today to replace the Environment Canterbury councillors they’ve sacked.

 

They include the chancellor & pro-chancellor of Lincoln University, chancellor of Canterbury University and a former Environment Court judge who’s also a Lincoln professor and had been working on a series of water application decisions under an appointment made by the sacked councillors.

 

Dr Smith & Mr Hide said: "The Government has selected experienced & capable commissioners with first-class public service, governance, judicial & business skills. We have ensured a balance of agricultural, environmental & electricity expertise to match the challenges facing Environment Canterbury. We have endeavoured to maximise the number of commissioners from Canterbury and ensured representation from both North & South Canterbury communities."

 

The commissioners are Dame Margaret Bazley (chairman), David Caygill (deputy chairman), David Bedford, Donald Couch, Tom Lambie, Professor Peter Skelton & Rex Williams.

 

Dr Smith said "A key concern of the Government has been the lack of a resource management plan for water in Canterbury and that is why completing a plan has been made an urgent priority in the terms of reference."

 

Mr Hide said: "The commissioners are also required to improve relations with Canterbury’s 10 territorial councils, to build on the work of the Canterbury water management strategy and to meet all the statutory obligations of the Resource Management & Local Government Acts to consult with the Canterbury community. These measures will improve the performance of Environment Canterbury leading into the 2013 local government elections."

 

The commissioners:

Dame Margaret Bazley, a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland governance,  chairman of the Fire Services Commission, registrar of the pecuniary interests of members of Parliament, former Secretary for Transport & Director-general of Social Welfare, she has specialist skills in organisational structure & change management and a long history of working with Maori communities at whanau, hapu & iwi levelsDavid Caygill, 6-term MP who was Minister of Trade & Industry, Health and Finance before reverting to the law as a partner in Buddle Findlay, chairman of the Electricity Commission, the ACC stocktake group, the Education NZ Trust & the advisory committee on official statistics, associate member of the Commerce Commission and a board member of the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority, was also a 3-term Christchurch City councillorDavid Bedford, owner & manager of a small family vineyard in North Canterbury, chairman of Enterprise North Canterbury, chief operating officer in Australia for Telecom NZ Ltd before retiring in 2003, previously held senior management roles in Telecom & Electricity of NZDonald Couch, pro-chancellor of Lincoln University, a trustee of the Ngai Tahu Ancillary Claims Trust and appointed by the Maori Land Court as a Rapaki trustee, has a long history in resource management in New Zealand & Canada, has held elected positions on both regional & city councils in Canada and was until recently deputy kaiwhakahaere, Te Runanga o Ngai TahuTom Lambie, owner of a 415ha BioGro organic-certified dairy farm at Pleasant Pt, South Canterbury, chancellor of Lincoln University, chairman of Opuha Water Ltd, a trustee of the Todd Foundation, chairman of the Hikurangai Foundation and a trustee of the Motu Economic & Public Policy Research Trust, he has a long history of farming politics and was national president of Federated Farmers from 2002-05, including a close association with the development of the Opuha water storage damHonorary Professor Peter Skelton, former Environment Court judge & associate professor of resource management law at Lincoln University, presided as an independent commissioner over Environment Waikato’s hearings on the control of nitrates entering Lake Taupo and, as an independent commissioner appointed by Environment Canterbury, has been completing a series of decisions on lower Waitaki catchment water applications, andRex Williams, a keen angler who was a founder and is a trustee of environmental lobby group the Water Rights Trust, formed in 2002 to address increasing concern about poor water management & deteriorating water quality in Canterbury, chancellor of Canterbury University, chairman of the West Coast District Health Board and of the HW Richardson Group, and ex-managing director of Holcim Cement Ltd.

 

Earlier story:

18 November 2009: 2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

 

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2 teams named to investigate Environment Canterbury performance

Published 18 November 2009

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide have announced the members of the review team that will investigate what they said was Environment Canterbury’s poor performance.

 

The 2 ministers said last month the Government wasn’t satisfied with Environment Canterbury’s performance and that an external review was necessary to fix the council’s problems: "The areas of concern are the processing of resource consents on time, developing a proper framework for managing Canterbury’s natural resources and the management of relationships with Canterbury’s territorial local authorities.

 

The first component of the review is under section 24A of the Resource Management Act, looking into Environment Canterbury’s resource management functions. The second is a non-statutory assessment of Environment Canterbury’s governance & policy functions under the Local Government Act."

 

Dr Smith said former deputy prime minister Wyatt Creech would oversee the RMA investigation, working with Doug Martin, of Martin Jenkins & Associates Ltd, Wellington, and independent Auckland planning consultant Greg Hill, who’s a former general manager of policy & planning at the Auckland Regional Council.

 

Mr Hide said the review of Environment Canterbury’s governance, policy functions & relationships with other councils would be done by civil engineer Doug Low and economist Alison Dalziel. Mr Low, a director of Morrison Low & Associates Ltd, Auckland, is a civil engineer with experience in managing major infrastructure & development projects, procurement in a government & local government setting, strategic & general management and organisational change. Ms Dalziel is an economist with more than 20 years of experience in central & local government. Her background includes policy & strategy, finance, corporate planning, economic development, urban development and sector & regional development.

 

Both reviews started at Environment Canterbury on Monday and are due to be completed by Friday 4 December. The report is due with the ministers in January.

 

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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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