A Northland Regional Council project to improve water quality at Otuihau/Whangarei Falls has received a $258,000 Community Environment Fund grant, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“This grant will enable the Council to continue to improve the water quality at this popular tourist spot and swimming hole by erecting fencing, riverside planting and stock water reticulation on farms in the upper Hātea catchment, which feeds into the falls. The project will erect nearly 40km of fencing and plant 30,000 native plants in the margins between the river and fences and in public areas during the next three years,” Dr Smith says.
“The funding will also contribute to community awareness activities, such as open days and planting days. New signage at the falls reserve will help educate the community on the cultural and ecological values of the water and what people can do to help.
“The project has a total cost of $575,000, with the Council contributing $150,000 and farmers expected to contribute the remaining $167,000.
“This is the sort of practical initiative we are going to need all over New Zealand to meet the Government’s target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. This ambitious target will require the upgrade of 1000km of waterways every year for 23 years. This project is not only a positive contributor to this target but is also a good community example of how it can be achieved.”
The Community Environment Fund provides funding so New Zealanders are empowered to take environmental action. It support projects that strengthen partnerships, raise public awareness of environmental issues, and encourage community participation in environmental initiatives. The fund has awarded more than $12 million to environmental projects since 2010.
The Otuihau/Whangarei Falls project’s first community planting day is on Saturday 24 June at Springs Flat Road Commercial Area from 11am to 3pm.
New Zealand is less exposed to the risks of fire as a result of combustible claddings on high-rise buildings due to these products being restricted earlier this year, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Government amended Building Code provisions in January this year to restrict the use of combustible cladding systems in buildings following fires in Melbourne and Dubai. I am advised that these systems are not prevalent in New Zealand. I have asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to contact councils and check whether any high-rise buildings have been constructed with these materials prior to the amendments earlier this year.
“New Zealand’s style of housing is shifting, with more people living in high-rise apartments that carry greater risks from fire hazards. Our building regulations need to keep pace with this change in living styles and ensure that New Zealand never experiences what occurred at the Grenfell Tower in London.
“The Government is further tightening the fire safety requirements for high-rise buildings with proposals put out for consultation in May. These proposals clarify the responsibilities between structural and fire engineers, tighten the verification methods for claddings and fire-fighting provisions such as water supply and location of fire hydrants in the building and improve the process for the development of alternative solutions.
“We will be watching the detailed inquiries into the London disaster to see whether there are any issues relevant to New Zealand’s building and fire regulations. We always need to be on the lookout for ways to improve public safety.”
See the amendments to the Building Code cladding provisions here: https://www.building.govt.nz/about-building-performance/news-and-updates/codewords/codewords-issue-77/changes-fire-safety-external-cladding/
An agreement between appellant parties for a development of up to 1500 homes at Auckland’s Three Kings, proposed by owners Fletcher Residential, has been welcomed by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“This agreement is great news for Auckland. It will provide up to 1500 homes close to the city on well-established transport links. It will transform the eyesore of a derelict quarry into a modern, integrated, inner-city community with a town centre, high-quality public spaces and playing fields. The $1.2 billion investment will provide hundreds of jobs and help maintain the momentum of Auckland’s largest-ever building boom.”
Dr Smith joined the proceedings over the Three Kings development in February last year out of concern that the urgent need for increased housing supply in the inner city was not being given sufficient weight and that resolution of the local issues was taking too long.
“A central part of Auckland’s housing solution is large scale inner city redevelopment projects like Fletcher Residential’s project for the Three Kings quarry. These projects offer the advantage over green fields developments on the city outskirts of putting less pressure on infrastructure.
“It is also possible to achieve better urban design than with many smaller one-off intensification projects adding multiple homes on to a single section. The Government is taking the lead with these large-scale urban development projects with Hobsonville, Tamaki and Northcote, but we also need private sector initiatives like Three Kings to meet future demand.
“Fletcher Residential has shown their capacity to build quality intensive housing on the adjacent 1.4 hectare Special Housing Area, where work is well advanced on 99 homes. I welcome their plans to advance this project, with earthworks next summer and the first homes being completed in 2019.
“This significant development was proposed more than five years ago and has been subject to over 100 consultation meetings and dozens of High Court, Environment Court and commissioner hearings. These types of delays are at the core of Auckland’s housing woes in that the building sector is not able to respond more quickly to changes in population. The Government is developing new urban development legislation to streamline these processes for projects of this type in the future.”
Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese today signed a three-year extension to the Nelson Housing Accord to help grow the city’s housing supply.
“The Accord signed today provides the basis for the Government and the Nelson City Council to continue working together to ensure sufficient sections and homes come on stream to match the region’s strong economic and population growth. The answer to Nelson’s housing issues is helping get more homes built,” Dr Smith says.
“We’ve increased our targets in the renewed Accord. Over the next three years – 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 – we’re aiming for 450 sections and 900 homes. We need 300 homes per year to be constructed to be meeting the projected population growth of 500 per year. It’s a 50 per cent increase over the current rate and will help address the extraordinary growth in the Nelson region. Average house prices in Nelson have increased 16 per cent in the past year and the most effective tool to constraining price rises is increasing supply.”
Ms Reese says the renewed Housing Accord will enable new Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to be created.
“Nelson City Council recently approved 13 additional SHAs for recommendation, doubling the number of SHAs in Nelson and potentially adding about 410 dwellings to Nelson city. The Council has also committed to appointing a new SHA co-ordinator to ensure these new targets are achieved,” she says.
The Housing Accord was first entered into in June 2015, setting a goal of 200 additional sections and 480 new homes over two years. In the first year of the Accord (2015-16) 125 new sections were issued with titles and 180 dwellings consented. The final figures for 2016-17 are not yet known with one month of data to come but are on track to be well up on 2015-16. This growth has been assisted by the 13 new SHAs that have been established in this year. Of these, 11 have started granting consents, with a projected yield of 470 dwellings.
“Nelson and Tasman are enjoying a record building boom, with $350 million of work consented in the past year. This renewed Accord with Nelson will ensure we keep up this pace of strong investment and growth,” Dr Smith concluded.
Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water Limited requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury.
“The irrigation scheme will take water from the Waitaki River to irrigate land between Waimate and Timaru. Hunter Downs Water has previously obtained water-take consent from Environment Canterbury and a development grant from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited. This scheme has the potential to irrigate 40,000 hectares, bringing benefits to 200 farmers. The economic benefits to the region are estimated at an increase in output of $830 million per year, and 1840 jobs in South Canterbury.
“A requiring authority has the ability to set aside land for infrastructure, such as road, rail, energy or water, and I am satisfied Hunter Downs Water meets the criteria to become one. This authority status is necessary to enable the scheme to be developed.
“This decision is an important milestone for the Hunter Downs Water project. It will give Hunter Downs Water Ltd the authority to apply to the Timaru and Waimate councils and Environment Canterbury for the necessary designations to implement the scheme.
“The approval of this requiring authority status to Hunter Downs Water Ltd reaffirms this Government’s commitment to supporting well-designed water augmentation schemes. We reject the simplistic view held by opposition parties that all water storage for irrigation is bad and will continue to support projects that meet high environmental standards,” Dr Smith concluded.
An application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) for the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand has been accepted and referred to a special tribunal, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“The Waikoropupū Springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and contain the clearest water measured anywhere in the world. These iconic waters are well deserving of consideration for a WCO - the highest protection possible for a water body,” Dr Smith says.
WCOs are the equivalent of National Park status for a water body. There are 15 WCOs nationwide covering 13 rivers and two lakes. This is the first application advanced for a springs. A WCO overrides any other planning instrument and requires the identified features or characteristics to be protected in perpetuity.
“I commend the applicants, Ngāti Tama Ki Te Waipounamu Trust and Andrew Yuill, on their application. The Waikoropupū Springs are a widely treasured and unique water body that attracts 90,000 visitors each year. The uniquely purple-blue water has a clarity of 63m due to the confined Mt Arthur karst aquifer through which it passes. These springs are part of what gives Golden Bay, Nelson and New Zealand a strong environmental reputation, and we must ensure they are protected for future generations.”
The original application for a Water Conservation Order was received in December 2013 but had insufficient information. Dr Smith earlier this year encouraged the applicants to resubmit the application with additional information, and this was received in April. Dr Smith advised Cabinet of his decision to accept the revised application last Monday, and the applicants and community were advised today.
“There is controversy in the region over the potential impacts of water abstraction and nutrient run-off on these precious springs. The advantage of a WCO is that any decisions made in future by the Council or the Environment Court on any resource plans or consents would have to be within the bounds of the protective covenant provided by the WCO.
“My decision to accept this application and refer it to a special tribunal will give an opportunity for the public both locally and nationally to have a say on the future of these important springs. The issue is not just whether there is a WCO but in ensuring the detail provides an appropriate level of protection.
“I am also having discussions with the Tasman District Council on how we can ensure the processes for the WCO can be aligned with their proposed changes to their water management plans in the catchment,” Dr Smith concluded.
Public submissions on the WCO application will be called after the Minister has appointed the special tribunal. The tribunal hears submissions and makes a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment, which can be appealed to the Environment Court. The Minister makes the final decision on the WCO.
For more information about Water Conservation Orders visit: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/fresh-water/water-conservation-orders/about-water-conservation-orders
Geotechnical guidance developed as a result of the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission will ensure better building performance and response to earthquakes, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“MBIE has today released new geotechnical modules on methods of improving ground conditions and retaining wall design, and a new field guide to help geotechnical professionals assess and categorise land instability after an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.
“The geotechnical component of the rapid building assessment process following an event is important for the safety of the public. It provides engineers assessing the ground after a significant event with an agreed process to follow to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Dr Smith says the modules and field guide are the latest in a series of geotechnical tools in response to recommendations made by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.
“Understanding ground behaviour is critical to building performance. This is why MBIE has been working with the New Zealand Geotechnical Society to develop ongoing geotechnical engineering guidance.
“The Christchurch experience has made New Zealand a world leader in the geotechnical field, and we work closely with international experts to ensure we raise the bar for building performance here and internationally.
“This is the first time there has been comprehensive guidance for geotechnical practice in New Zealand. To support the release of the modules an education programme with online resources has been launched to assist geotechnical practitioners.”
More information about the new modules and field guide is available at: https://www.building.govt.nz/about-building-performance/news-and-updates/all-news-and-updates/bc-update-216
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the 2017 Green Ribbon Awards finalists, recognising exceptional environmental and conservation initiatives throughout New Zealand.
“These national awards, now in their 27th year, play an important role in celebrating and raising the profile of outstanding contributions by individuals, communities and organisations to protect and manage New Zealand’s environment,” Dr Smith says.
“The standard of nominations this year was particularly high and it’s great to see so many people and organisations stepping up to care for our environment. We received close to 150 nominations, from all corners of the country.”
Ms Barry says the finalists are doing exceptional work to conserve New Zealand’s unique environment and species for generations to come.
“What particularly stands out from the stories of our finalists this year is the leadership they have shown to deliver significant, tangible outcomes for the environment and conservation,” Ms Barry says.
“Many of the finalists have achieved remarkable results through community involvement and collaboration with others. They are examples of New Zealanders working together for the common good.”
The Green Ribbon Awards will once again include the presentation of the Loder Cup, which was first awarded in 1929.
“This is one of the country’s oldest conservation awards and recognises outstanding work to protect our native plants. The Green Ribbon Awards is a fitting opportunity to congratulate the winner of this special award,” Ms Barry says.
All Green Ribbon Awards finalists will be invited to attend a ceremony at Parliament on 8 June. Winners will be announced for each category, including the overall supreme winner. Read the finalists’ stories on the Green Ribbon Awards website www.greenribbonawards.org.nz
Finalists for 2017:
Minimising Our Waste: Webstar | Xtreme Zero Waste | Department of Corrections
Resilience to Climate Change: New Zealand Post | Post Nelson Ltd | Sustainability Trust
Protecting our Coasts and Oceans: Whaingaroa Harbour Care | Moana New Zealand and Sanford Ltd | Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand | South Taranaki Underwater Club
Protecting our Biodiversity:
Gisborne District Council | QEII National Trust and its covenanters | Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society | Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust
Caring for our Water: Whangawehi Catchment Management Group | Discover Waitomo | Wharekopae Catchment Group
Business Leadership: Air New Zealand | Nelson Mail, Fairfax Media | Countdown (Progressive Enterprises)
Community Leadership: Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust | Polhill Protectors | Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust
Leadership in Communication and Education: The Project Crimson Trust | Zealandia | Dargaville Intermediate School
Kaitiaki Leadership: Para Kore Marae Inc. | Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu
Philanthropy and Partnership: Taranaki Mounga Project Ltd | Genesis Energy | The Project Crimson Trust
The Government is committing additional funding in Budget 2017 to implement some of its key environmental and infrastructure initiatives, Environment and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The new funding in Budget 2017 is focused on putting in place improvements to urban development, implementing the Housing Infrastructure Fund, providing additional funding to improve fresh water quality, and supporting marine-protected-area reform,” Dr Smith says.
Budget 2017 includes an extra $4.9 million operating over four years to implement the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC).
“The NPS-UDC requires councils to make sure plans provide plenty of opportunities for feasible housing and business development. It’s important that it is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible. Together with the second phase of the Resource Management Act reforms, it is one of our key initiatives to help address housing affordability.
“The $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is another key initiative and is designed to assist high-growth councils in financing the necessary infrastructure – the water supply, storm water, waste water and roading – to open up new housing areas. Budget 2017 provides a further $3.5 million to administer this fund.
Budget 2017 also includes an extra $1 million in 2017/18 for the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund, to improve water quality of freshwater bodies (including lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and lagoons) that are important to local iwi/hapū.
“This is in addition to the initiatives announced in the Government’s Clean Water Package, consultation on which has recently closed. That package includes work in the areas of stock exclusion from waterways, changes to the National Policy Statement on fresh water management, and other initiatives,” Dr Smith says.
Budget 2017 includes $1.5 million in 2017/18 (including $250,000 in Vote Environment) to advance proposals for recreational fishing parks in the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds. The funding will support engagement between key government agencies – the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation – iwi, communities and stakeholders to progress the fishing parks alongside other proposals for the use and protection of marine space in these areas.
Legislation enabling a housing development at Point England and progress on Ngāti Paoa’s historical Treaty settlement has passed its second reading by 62-43, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“It is poor use of Crown land just 10km from Auckland’s CBD to have 18 hectares fenced off for cattle grazing for more than 30 years.
“We are going to use 12ha for new houses and 2ha for a marae, as part of a Treaty settlement with Ngāti Paoa. The remaining 4ha will be added to the 32 of public reserve space.
“This pragmatic response delivers much needed homes, assists in settling a long standing Treaty grievance, expands the area available for recreation and enables millions of dollars to be invested in improving the facilities and environment.
“The Government has taken on board the concerns of the local community in guaranteeing an increase in the accessible public space, retaining at least the same area of playing fields and committing to spending all of the Crown’s proceeds from the housing development in enhancing the local recreational facilities and environment.
“Labour’s opposition to this Bill is hypocritical. They demand more action on housing supply but then oppose major developments like Three Kings and Point England. It is also ironic that they are calling for reductions in cow numbers nationally but defend grazing on 18ha of prime central city land where land supply is the most significant barrier to housing.
“The Labour proposal of using land owned by the Tamaki Redevelopment Company is not a credible alternative because it is already committed to housing and does not add to supply. Ngāti Paoa has also made plain that this ancestral block of Point England is pivotal to their settlement.
“Auckland’s housing challenges will be resolved development by development. We are making good progress in growing supply over the past five years from the 4000 new homes being built a year to over 10,000 today. We need pragmatic initiatives like Point England to maintain this growth.”