Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith is hailing today’s pest control operation in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary as a win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds.
“The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust has fought long and hard for today’s pest control operation. It has had to go to court three times as a result of action by the Brook Valley Community Trust to try to stop it, and three times the court has backed the Sanctuary Trust,” Dr Smith says.
“The science is clear that the only way birds like kiwi, kokako, kea and kaka will survive is to effectively control the pests that have decimated their populations. I can appreciate people’s angst at killing rats, stoats and possums but every year these pests brutally kill 25 million native birds.
“It’s a credit to Sanctuary Trust members that they have persevered through these court cases and vandalism of the sanctuary to carry out today’s operation. They have toiled for 15 years, raising more than $5 million and spending thousands of hours volunteering to realise their vision, and I commend them for their efforts.
“I wish the sanctuary every success with this challenging operation. It is a huge technical challenge to successfully eradicate every single rat, stoat and possum. If we can successfully get through this controversial phase, we will soon as a community be able to share the joy of reintroducing birds to Nelson’s backyard that have been absent for a century.”
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has applied to use a Streamlined Planning Process (SPP) introduced under Resource Management Act reforms in order to meet the region’s growing demand for new housing, Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith says.
“Bay of Plenty is one of New Zealand’s highest growth areas and while the local economy is booming, population growth is placing increasing pressure on housing supply in the region,” Dr Smith says.
“It is crucial that New Zealand’s high-growth regions like the Bay of Plenty are proactive in managing this growth, by providing sufficient land to meet the demand for housing. The new streamlined planning process will support the Regional Council in achieving this.
“The Regional Council, together with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council and the NZ Transport Agency, have launched a collaborative project, Tauriko for Tomorrow, as part of their wider SmartGrowth partnership for the region. This project aims to create a new community in Tauriko West to accommodate 2800 new dwellings.”
To achieve the new development the Regional Council needs to amend its Regional Policy Statement to include 280 hectares of land currently zoned for rural use at Tauriko West within its urban limits line. This means the land can be subsequently rezoned for residential development through a change to the Tauranga City Plan.
“I am pleased to confirm I have received the Regional Council’s application to use the SPP to amend its Regional Policy Statement,” Dr Smith says.
“If approved, the Regional Council will follow a clear process, including pre-notification consultation with relevant iwi authorities, public notification, public consultation, and a public hearing with at least one independent hearing commissioner.”
“I expect to make a decision on the streamlined application in the next week, given the importance of opening up new land as quickly as possible. If approved following the streamlined process, the final decision on any changes would be made by the Minister for the Environment in 2018.”
It is time the Brook Valley Community Group accepted the multiple court rulings in favour of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary and stopped its disruption to this critical Nelson environment project following today’s Court of Appeal decision, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The opposition from the Community Group has become farcical. Their argument has been rejected by the High Court twice and now by the Court of Appeal. These legal proceedings have cost the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust and the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. It is time for the Sanctuary Trust to be able to get on with the job of creating this haven for our region’s native wildlife,” Dr Smith says.
“It is unacceptable that the voluntary work of thousands of people and the donations of millions of dollars that has gone into the sanctuary is being put at risk by people who are prepared to sabotage this community project. The Community Group needs to take some responsibility for this vandalism because of the extreme language and misinformation they have spread about the sanctuary work.
“I recently spent a weekend door knocking in the Brook Valley and was amazed at the strength of support for the Sanctuary. The Community Group is not representative of the community and is getting its strongest support from anti-1080 campaigners from outside the valley and beyond the Nelson region. The opportunity to eradicate 100 per cent of pests from the 715ha sanctuary is a challenging enough task without these ongoing court challenges interrupting the programme and threats of disruption at the site.
“The Zealandia Sanctuary in Wellington is proof that these pest control operations can be safely achieved with enormous benefits. The Nelson community can also have confidence that the operation can be conducted quite safely given the multiple decisions of the court rejecting opponent claims. This is a simple choice between whether we want stoats, rats and possums or kiwi, kaka and tui in Nelson’s backyard.”
Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick have today signed a Housing Accord aimed at substantially boosting Rotorua’s housing supply over the next four years.
“Rotorua’s local economy is doing well and the population is growing at a faster rate than in decades but this is putting pressure on housing prices and availability. This Housing Accord will get the Council and the Government working together to free up more land, grow supply and co-ordinate support for people in housing need,” Dr Smith says.
“We’ve agreed a target of 900 dwellings and 1050 sections over the next four years, which will average out to 225 dwellings being consented each year. During the past four years an average of 94 dwellings have been consented each year, so the target is ambitious yet achievable.
“Housing Accords have proved successful in increasing supply in places like Queenstown, Auckland, Nelson and Tauranga. House building activity has grown by 93 per cent, 78 per cent, 55 per cent and 86 per cent respectively in each of these areas since Housing Accords were entered into. They have sped up consenting for new housing developments, support new social housing initiatives, assist councils with infrastructure costs and facilitate joint Council-Government housing developments.
“This Rotorua Accord has been tailored to reflect the unique housing opportunities for the city and supports the Rotorua Lakes Council’s desire to work with iwi to explore options for the development of papakāinga housing.”
Dr Smith says Rotorua MP Todd McClay first raised the possibility of an Accord in June and the proposal was endorsed by Mayor Steve Chadwick.
“This Accord is a game-changer and a real win for Rotorua. I am very pleased the opportunity has been seized upon so quickly,” Mr McClay says.
“These properties will make a big impact locally and provide a welcome release of pressure for the housing market.
“Rotorua’s population is growing, our local economy is booming and unemployment is falling. Now the Council has the tools it needs to ensure that housing supply keeps up with demand,” Mr McClay says.
“I thank and commend the Rotorua Mayor and Council, as well as officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who have worked hard to conclude this Accord so quickly. We need to maintain this momentum in now identifying Special Housing Areas and complementary initiatives to deliver these 900 homes,” Dr Smith concluded.
The Rotorua Lakes district has been added to Schedule 1 of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas (HASHAA) Act 2013, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“There is a real will from the Rotorua Lakes Council and the Government to develop a Housing Accord to address increased pressures on the local housing market. The first step to achieving this is adding Rotorua to the HASHAA Schedule.”
Cabinet on Monday approved the move and the decision has been formally gazetted today.
“This scheduling recognises the growth pressures on Rotorua. The local economy is doing well and the population is growing at a faster rate than in decades but this is putting pressure on housing prices and availability. The advantage of a Housing Accord is that it gets the Council and the Government working together on freeing up more land, growing supply and co-ordinating support for people in housing need.
“Housing Accords have proved successful in increasing supply in places like Selwyn, Auckland, Nelson and Tauranga. They have sped up consenting for new housing developments, supported new social housing initiatives, assisted councils with infrastructure costs and facilitated joint Council-Government housing developments.
"The next step for Rotorua is negotiating a Housing Accord. The Government and Council officials are well advanced in this work. It is my ambition to conclude a Housing Accord with the Rotorua Council prior to the election.”
A new pledge by farming leaders to improve the swimmability of New Zealand’s rivers has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“This pledge from farming leaders shows the real commitment farmers have to tackling these long term issues,” says Mr Guy.
“Farmers are closer to the land to the land than nearly anyone else, and they care deeply about leaving a good legacy for their children.
“Most of New Zealand’s rivers are in a good state but there are a number that need work, and this will take concerted effort by all New Zealanders – including farmers, urban areas, and local and central Government.
“We need to recognise the massive environmental improvements that farmers have made in recent times. In the last five years it’s estimated that farmers have spent over $1 billion of their own money towards environmental measures on farm, with around 98% of dairy waterways fenced off.”
“I welcome this high level commitment from farming leaders,” says Dr Smith.
“It builds on the goodwill and work of the Land and Water Forum and provides the leadership to help implement the ambitious new regulations passed this month on improving water quality for swimming.”
The new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management was announced on 9 August and introduces a new requirement for rivers to be suitable for swimming. It sets a timetable of 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040, establishing a system for monitoring and reporting and requires each of the 16 Regional Councils to set regional targets by 2018.
“The Government has put in place a robust plan for improving swimmability of our rivers and funding to assist in the cost of achieving it. This pledge will help drive the next steps of finalising national stock exclusion rules and the work towards delivering Good Management Practices for the different farming sectors.
“The challenge New Zealand has on improving freshwater quality is not just for farmers. Urban New Zealand will also need to commit to improving stormwater and wastewater systems to achieve the Government’s goals.”
Housing supply in the Nelson-Tasman region has received a major boost with the establishment of 20 new Special Housing Areas (SHAs) with capacity for 1700 homes, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“The regional economy is booming and attracting new investment, jobs and population growth. This growth is welcomed but is putting pressure on housing supply and costs for both renters and home buyers. Opening up these 20 areas for housing and adding 1700 homes to supply is the key to improving affordability,” Dr Smith says.
The Tasman-Nelson SHAs were established as part of the renewed Housing Accords between the Government and the Tasman and Nelson councils in May and June of this year. The Tasman Accord set targets of 800 sections and 1100 homes over the next three years, while Nelson’s has targets of 450 sections and 900 homes over the same time.
The SHAs were approved by Cabinet on Monday and in Nelson are: Bayview Road, Atawhai, 125; Crown Terrace, Britannia Heights, 80; Cherry Avenue, Enner Glynn, 5; Wastney Terrace, Marybank, 20; Quiet Woman Way, Monaco, 6; Upper Trafalgar, Nelson South, 5; Van Diemen Street, Nelson South, 3; Nayland Road, Stoke, 6; Cadiz Court, The Wood, 18; Parklands, Toi Toi, 14; Taylor Estate, Wakapuaka, 80; Highview Drive, Wakatu, 45. In Tasman they are: Sandy Bay-Marahau Road, Marahau, 45-66; Richmond Road, Pohara, 70; Angelus Avenue, Richmond, 30-42; Highland Drive, Richmond, 32; Hill Street, Richmond, 16-23; ApplebyField, Richmond West, 250; The Meadows, Richmond West, 800; Whitby Road, Wakefield, 40.
“I appreciate there is some controversy and concern from adjacent residents about some of these SHAs. I have consistently adopted a policy in approving over 200 SHAs across New Zealand that this is primarily a consideration for Councils in making the recommendation, and that does not change in my home area. We need to carefully weigh up the relative rights of people who would prefer their adjacent area is not developed into housing with the rights of many more people to have access to housing at an affordable price.
“I know from my experience in Christchurch, where the Government opened up large tracts of land for housing, that it has a marked impact on house prices. The median house price in Christchurch is $430,000, with a decrease of 2 per cent in the past year. In Nelson/Tasman the median is $501,500, and increased 11 per cent in the past year. Opening up these additional areas of land for housing will generate genuine competition in the section market and help stabilise prices.
“One of the Richmond SHAs, The Meadows, has a potential yield of 800 homes including a retirement village with 220 villas and a care facility. The adjacent ApplebyFields SHA could yield 250 homes. These are exciting developments which are the start of a large community close to the centre of Richmond, with employment and recreational facilities nearby. I am also in discussions with the Ministry of Education on options for building a new school in this new Richmond West community.
“This opening up of the Richmond West community is particularly welcome news for first home buyers and young families. The flat land makes it much less expensive to develop. Many Nelson families are eligible for KiwiSaver HomeStart grants of up to $20,000 but cannot currently find suitable properties to buy.
“The economic implications of these developments are huge and amount to building a new town the size of Westport. Building activity across the region is already at an all-time high. These housing developments will involve total building and infrastructure work totalling over $800 million and will provide hundreds of Nelsonians with jobs.”
KiwiSaver HomeStart is playing an increasing role in helping home buyers purchase their first property, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The second full year of the scheme has seen 15,400 first home buyers assisted with $75 million of grants, an increase of $10 million over the previous year. A total of 30,943 people have been helped with grants of $148,139,000 since the scheme started in April 2015. They are on track to deliver on the target of 90,000 grants over five years as promised when the scheme was announced in Election 2014.
“The growth in the use of KiwiSaver funds for the purchase of a new house is even more dramatic, growing to $655 million in the second full year, up from $495 million in the previous year.
“The importance of KiwiSaver HomeStart is that the most difficult hurdle to overcome for first home buyers, particularly with low interest rates, is pulling together the funds for a deposit. The scheme has assisted with more than $1.4 billion to date in funds for a deposit for first home buyers.
“We now have all of the key housing data trending in the right direction. House build rates are at the highest level in a decade and 100,000 homes are in the pipeline over the next three years. House price inflation is trending down and is now at the lowest rate for six years, of 3 per cent. We have the proportion of first home buyers trending up and at the highest level since the GFC.”
The Government is seeking public feedback on how to best manage space rocket activity and its environmental impacts in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS), Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Space rocket launches are a new and exciting industry for New Zealand, which the Government wants to help develop in a safe and responsible way. These latest proposals are about further assisting this technologically advanced industry to grow while ensuring we maintain our high environmental standards,” Dr Smith says.
“The environmental issue from space vehicle launches is that before it reaches orbit, some material is jettisoned and falls back to earth. This material may burn up in the atmosphere but some may land in the waters of New Zealand’s EEZ and ECS, sink and deposit on the seabed.
“The impacts of this have been assessed as small, and the proposal is that this be a permitted activity for all ocean area to the north, east and south of New Zealand, subject to a standard set of conditions. The conditions limit the number of launches to 100, require a 14 day public notification of the launch and flight path, and post-launch reports on the activity.
“We welcome feedback on these pragmatic proposals to extend the area of the oceans in which there might be space rocket debris. There have already been rocket launches from the Mahia Peninsula and the Government wants to provide a practical regulatory regime in which the industry can continue to grow.”
Public consultation is now open and closes on 13 September 2017. A discussion paper and environmental risk information are available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/marine/regulation-jettisoned-material-space-launch-vehicles
The failure of a further attempt by the Brook Valley Community Group to block the pest control operation in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary has been welcomed by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“The Brook Valley Community Group had a fair hearing in the High Court, and lost. They are now trying to throw a spanner in the works by seeking interim orders to block the pest control operation while they attempt an appeal.
“They know that if they can just keep dragging out the dispute, the Brook Valley Sanctuary Trust will run out of funding. It is good news that this has been rejected. The Trust, having won the substantial case, should now be able to get on with the job subject to a suitable weather window.
“These ongoing legal wrangles are just adding to the costs of the Trust, the ratepayer and the taxpayer. The vision of the sanctuary can be achieved only by successful completion of the pest control operation. These wins by the Trust in the High Court provide reassurance to the community that they are following the regulations properly and that the pest control operation is safe.
“It is time for the Nelson community to get behind the Trust and support this pest control effort to bring to life the vision of a safe haven for our native birds,” Dr Smith concluded.