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.”
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2) introduced to Parliament today will provide better protections and clarity for tenants and landlords, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“This Bill makes three practical changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to help ensure our tenancy laws better manage methamphetamine contamination, liability for careless damage and the tenancy of unsuitable properties. It builds on the changes we made last year requiring smoke alarms and insulation, and establishing a Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team.
“This Bill recognises that meth contamination of properties has become a significant issue that needs clearer direction. We want homes to be safe but we also don’t want properties being vacated when the risks are low.
“Landlords will have easier access to test for meth and tenants will be able to terminate their tenancy if it presents at unsafe levels. Standards New Zealand is working on appropriate contamination thresholds and the Bill will enable these to be legally recognised and enforceable before the Tenancy Tribunal.
“The Bill also implements changes in respect of liability for careless damage arising from the Osaki decision last year. This court ruling means landlords cannot recover the costs of damage, including the excess charge on any insurance policy. The changes are needed to ensure tenants have an incentive to take good care of a property, and for the landlord to have appropriate insurance.
“Under the Bill, tenants will be liable for the cost of their landlord’s insurance excess up to a maximum of four weeks’ rent for each incident of damage caused by carelessness. A tenant remains fully liable where the damage is deliberate or a criminal act, and the landlord liable for fair wear and tear and damage beyond the control of the tenant, like a natural disaster.
“It also strengthens the law for prosecuting landlords who tenant unsuitable properties. The current jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal is limited to residential buildings, meaning those who rent out unlawfully converted garages, warehouses or industrial buildings as living spaces can avoid accountability.
“These improvements to our tenancy laws will better protect responsible landlords and tenants and help our residential tenancy market function more effectively,” Dr Smith concluded.
A new Tasman Housing Accord aimed at boosting the district’s housing supply has been signed today by Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mayor Richard Kempthorne.
“Tasman is a successful and growing region. Unemployment is the lowest in the country and our community is benefiting from this growth, but we need to ensure we keep pace with this growth by providing additional space for new housing,” Dr Smith says.
“Significant population growth is forecast in five of the Tasman District’s major settlements - Richmond, Mapua, Motueka, Brightwater and Wakefield – in the next 10 to 20 years. This Accord is about ensuring this growth is well managed and supported.
“The Accord signed today provides the basis for the Government and the Tasman District Council to continue working together to clear the red tape for developers and to free up land faster.”
The previous Housing Accord was entered into in May 2015. It set a goal of 260 additional sections and 620 new homes over two years, and these have been well exceeded, with 457 new sections and 693 new homes. The new targets for the period 2017-19 are for 800 sections and 1100 homes.
“The primary benefit of a new Housing Accord with Tasman is enabling new Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to be declared. The Government and Council are in discussions on several possible areas that will add hundreds of sections to supply. These will be considered in coming months alongside Council-lead policy on establishing future SHAs,” Dr Smith says.
“Nelson and Tasman are enjoying a record building boom, with $350 million of work consented in the past year. This new Accord with Tasman will ensure we keep up this pace of strong investment and growth.”
Temporary homes will be moved on to the Whakatāne Holiday Park and next to flood-damaged homes while properties in the Edgecumbe area are repaired, Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith said today.
The Ministers visited the holiday park to see the region’s recovery first-hand, and visit the site where a number of temporary homes will be built to increase accommodation options in the area.
“More than 250 homes were damaged when the Rangitāiki River broke its banks last month. MBIE’s Temporary Accommodation Service has had more than 90 registrations from people with damaged homes who need support to find temporary accommodation,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The Government remains committed to ensuring that locals have the support they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“We’ve provided $500,000 of Enhanced Taskforce Green funding to employ people to assist the Council with the clean-up, and the first work crews got under way this week.
“Over 2800 Civil Defence payments, totalling more than $722,000, have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding, and there’s also been over 230 other emergency related payments, totalling about $41,000.”
Dr Smith says: “The temporary housing to be built on Whakatāne Holiday Park and, where suitable, adjacent to flood-damaged homes will enable people to stay connected to their community while their homes are repaired. These are to complement the other housing options available through the private market, including holiday accommodation and social housing. The total initiative will include about 30 temporary homes.
“These solutions have proved very effective in supporting the recovery in the Christchurch and Kāikoura earthquakes and are an appropriate response to the difficulties faced by Edgecumbe flood victims. The first homes arrived this week and we are working with the Council to have the temporary village operational next month.
“These temporary accommodation options have been developed in partnership with the Whakatāne District Council, with the costs being shared. Households registered with the service will be able to access these homes while their own is repaired.”
Mrs Tolley and Dr Smith also visited a property in one of Edgecumbe’s most flood-affected streets, Rata Avenue, where the first portable unit was recently delivered and installed by the service.
“This is the first of a number of portable homes to be made available to homeowners who wish to stay on their own land. They will be connected to existing services where possible,” Dr Smith says.
Households affected by flooding who need support to find temporary accommodation should register at www.temporaryaccommodation.mbie.govt.nz or call 0800 779 997 to discuss your requirements.
The Government and the Hurunui District Council are establishing a temporary accommodation village in Waiau to help the town’s recovery from the Kaikōura Earthquake, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Waiau was hit hardest of any community by the 14 November quake. The village suffered a higher proportion of damaged homes than any community affected by recent disasters. Recovery is best supported by people being able to stay in their community and that is why the Government is investing with the Council in this temporary accommodation village.
“The Council has purchased a central site from the Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Leslie and Clarence streets, and come to an agreement with the Government to take four of the houses from Rawhiti. The Government is contributing by selling them at a discounted price of $24,510 each and meeting the cost of transporting them to the site.”
Dr Smith and Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley today visited the site.
“The establishment of a temporary accommodation village is an important step in the region’s recovery, as it allows Hurunui residents to stay in the area and continue to be part of the community while they rebuild and repair their homes,” Mr Dalley says.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s temporary accommodation service will manage the register of interest to stay, eligibility checks and allocation of houses before handing over clients to the Council, which will manage the tenancies, repairs maintenance, disputes, rent.
Dr Smith had announced earlier this year the 20 Canterbury earthquake temporary accommodation houses at Rawhiti would be made available for farmers to purchase at residual value, so they could live and work on their land while their home was repaired or rebuilt.
“The greatest need for these homes was for the displaced farmers, who have opted to purchase 16 of them. It makes great sense to use the remaining four to support the Council with the new temporary accommodation village,” Dr Smith says.
He and Mr Dalley also visited the first of these units to be up and running as on-farm accommodation, at Mendip Hills Station in Parnassus.
“More of these homes will arrive on farms around the Hurunui, Kaikōura and Marlborough districts in the next few weeks,” Dr Smith says.
“The Government and the Council are working closely together to support the recovery from the devastating Kaikōura quake. This practical step around temporary accommodation is an important part of the recovery effort.”