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Ministers announce investigation into Environment Canterbury performance

Published 30 October 2009

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide announced a formal investigation into Environment Canterbury on Wednesday “because its poor performance is holding the Canterbury region back”.

The 2 ministers said in a joint statement: “The Government is not satisfied with Environment Canterbury’s performance in efficiently processing resource consents, developing a proper framework for managing Canterbury’s natural resources, nor with its management of relationships with Canterbury’s territorial local authorities. We believe an external review is necessary to fix these issues.

“The first component of the review is under section 24A of the Resource Management Act, looking into Environment Canterbury’s resource management functions. It is the first time these provisions have been used (see separate story for the second, a review of the Far North District Council’s functions under that act). The second is a non-statutory assessment of Environment Canterbury’s governance & policy functions under the Local Government Act.”

Dr Smith said Environment Canterbury performed poorly in the 2007-08 Resource Management Act survey, processing only 29% of consents on time – the worst of all 84 councils: “I have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the council’s broader environmental management that warrants investigation.”

Mr Hide said he had received strong submissions from Canterbury’s mayors about the performance of Environment Canterbury: “Recent issues around Environment Canterbury’s governance and divisions among councillors do not give the Government confidence the council can resolve the problems.”

The ministers released terms of reference for the review, which is expected to be completed by February 2010. “We are encouraged by the constructive engagement by Environment Canterbury in this process and want to ensure the Government can help the council get back on track.”

The review is planned to take place over a 3-week period in November, so a report can be drafted before the end of the year.

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

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