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Author/Moderator - William (Bill) Barclay 

 

Associate Member NZ Media Council.   

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Wednesday
Jun262019

Annual Plan - The "Nitty Gritty!"

For years, I have watched as the finance gurus within Council undertake their chores, and come up with results that few around the table have a clue about, let alone ask any questions.

It was interesting that in this latest iteration, that a substantially revised Prospective Statement of Financial Position was presented at the Meeting to replace the one contained  in the prospective financial  statements as tabled within the Annual Plan. - always a 'red flag' without an adequate explanation, and I don't consider the one provided yesterday to be in that category. 

What concerns me is that $6.5m 'Investments' disappeared from 'Current Assets,' apparently partly offset at the bottom of the page with an increase of some $7m in 'Borrowings' in the current year, and $11m over the term of the Long Term PLan. This appears a rather arbitrary change of this scale and nature, and how did the 'Investments' get in there in the first place? Surely not a 'balancing item' - the bane of auditors.

Another major change appeared with a $24m further increase in 'Property, plant & equipment' over the term of the LTP, following on the $42m increase in 2019/20 already approved. The CEO warned that borrowings will be approaching the Council's current (ordained) limits by the end of 2019/20. There are some very ambitious capirtal items in the offing that will clearly clean out the coffers.

So prepare yourself for a substantial rate increase bid in the 2020/21, particularly if some of the Eastern infrastructure plans, and the Thames Recreation Centre come to fruition. Expect $40m minimum for the latter (c.f. Napier CC, and forget the wildly optimistic estimates bruited about to date!)). Remember that Council assets can only be funded by rates, or borrowing, so if CEO Rob Williams is on the mark. a major hike in rates next year (following the election!)  is inevitable. Candidates need to be put under the hammer on this.

Another (but no means the only bugbear I have with projections, and Annual Accounts for that matter) is the cunning way in which we are prevented from establishing the year on year increase in staffing costs. This is done by the simple expedient of combining Staff Costs with Suppliers  - some $63m - not insignificant, even if stable. Other councils do exactly the same, but that does not excuse the practice - separating the two would only represents an extra line, and contribute to transparency.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun262019

War On Plastic Bottles!

Yesterday’s Council meeting was hilarious, without actually inspiring mirth.

It was called for the purpose of adopting the 2019/20 Annual Plan (which deviated by only a small degree from the LTP), and the setting of rates for the same period (.81% increase over the LTP estimate, as indicated earlier).

The silent laughter – at least from where I was sitting, came when in the only animated part of proceedings Clrs McLean and Fox launched into an attack of the failure of Council to adopt more pro-active policies regarding the removal of plastic bottles from the waste -stream on the Peninsula.

I say hilarious, because I have heard nothing but silence from these two during the entire time that our Council has concerned itself about matters environmental. Yesterday, by contrast, we had Clr McLean loudly lecture the room on the evils of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) milk bottles in particular, and plastic bottles in general,

Both he and Clr Fox indicated that they would be unlikely to rest until all these bottles had been replaced by glass, aluminum, and plastic bags for milk – something that Clr McLean had observed during his recent holiday in Canada, He illustrated his lecture with an estimate, using his fingers, of the relative size of a compressed used plastic bag.

Milk processors will be thrilled when told that their investment in PET bottle filling equipment will now need to be replaced with plastic bag technology, but would plastic bags be the answer, and pass muster with the anti-bag brigade? – Somehow I doubt it - I recall them being used for a time decades ago in outback Australia, prior to the advent of the PET bottles. .

Nevertheless, it is a grand day for our District, and our Council when suddenly councilors (well at least McLean and Fox on this occasion) are recognizing the need to really do something about the plastic waste stream, now that China and Malaysia are saying - “enough – take your waste somewhere else, or preferably treat it yourself.”

There was a stunned silence from others in the room, and I recalled having earlier drawn attention to the fact that the waste management companies, including Smart, actually contracted to dispose of all of the waste. Their pleas now for Government intervention, and funding of the means by which to dispose of plastic is classical capitalism at work - "You fund the losses, and we'll take the profits." 

But Mayor Sandra then weighed in with reports from the Mayoral Forum regarding real (?) progress that is being made in regard to incineration – principally, and of interest to us, around the currently redundant Meremere plant. Sweden has apparently developed highly sophisticated technology to overcome previous objections, but whether this includes capture of CO2 remains moot.

Separation of the milk bottles from the stream may be the only other solution to their recycling into albeit, lower value, or perhaps road surfacing products as recently publicized. This may be the only hope for dealing with the growing PET mountain, and will  surely require a levy that will add to the cost of milk, but consumers simply cannot expect a ‘free-ride’ in this regard.

Unlike soft-drink products, milk bottles are seldom thrown away – nearly all appear to come back into the system, thus obviating the need for a deposit as appears necessary in regard to the former.

Thus, Clr McLean and Fox may yet see their dream of a plastic-free Peninsula. I for one hope so, and applaud their new-found enthusiasm – it is remarkable how public-spirited, previously hidden sentiments can be revealed immediately prior to an election. 

 

 

 

Monday
Jun242019

Irish Farmers Lead On Climate Change

In one of the most insightful articles I have seen on the subject, Nigel Oram in today's Newsroom points out the contrast between the plans adopted by the Irish farming industry to deal with climate change, and those of our own industry - adopted reluctantly and in a miserly fashion.

"For decades, Irish farmers, scientists and politicians have flocked to New Zealand to learn how we farm so well. They saw us as global leaders.

No longer. On Monday Irish farmers featured prominently in their country’s launch of its response to the global climate crisis. They will significantly reduce their emissions to help Ireland meet its national goals and its international obligations.

In stark contrast, our farm leaders, and the politicians they support, keep coming up with spurious reasons why they shan’t, can’t and won’t act."

I really commend this article to every reader - Nigel Oram, long considered an apologist for the dairy industry, and can hardly be regarded nowadays as anything but a fair and rational observer, unlike the vast majority of our farming leaders who seem to hang their hollow claims of superiority on having a "unique" grass-fed industry that produces milk "more efficiently than any other country." This is total nonsense of course when their total contribution to the full range of dangerous emissions is taken into account. 

"Yet those primary industry organisations seem to have forgotten all about the report they helped produce. They are vigorously attacking the Government’s proposal in its climate amendment bill before parliament to reduce methane by 10 percent from 2017 levels by 2030 and 24-47 percent by 2050, depending how events unfold.

By comparison, the measures adopted in Ireland - long regarded as our only Northern Hemisphere equivalent, put our industry to shame. The latest evidence of this is the “primary sector policy discussion document” the National Party released at Field-days last week. In his speech launching it, National leader Simon Bridges said:

“New Zealand has natural resources that position us as efficient and sustainable producers of food and fibre products. Our hard working innovative farmers are world leading. Demand for our products is set to grow and our policies are about allowing New Zealand to make the most of these opportunities.”

But as Oram sees it:

"The document lacked any insight in to the global threats and opportunities the Irish are intensely focused on and committed to. Instead, the document Bridges was so proud of covered 16 topics in 30 pages of lavish photos and vacuous content, of which two pages were devoted to climate change and one to horse racing."

A sad turn of events, indeed!
 

 

 

 

Sunday
Jun232019

Genetically Modified Atlantic Salmon 

CBS News carries this story today regarding the advent of genetically modified salmon eggs being used to improve growth rates, and to lower feed requirements for farmed Atlantic salmon in the US.

So far, it appears approved for use only in restaurant and university cafeterias, but clearly this is just the start of something far lager. Farmed Atlantic salmon as opposed to our far more prized Pacific or Chinook, and along with turkey, comprises a surprisingly high percentage of overall protein consumption in the Northern Hemisphere - the US in particular.  

I post this simply to keep abreast of techniques that may eventually find their way to this country, though approval seems high unlikely in the current climate surrounding genetic modification of anything.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note hat ryegrass modification for one is becoming almost a topic of everyday conversation in agricultural circles.

 

 

 

Friday
Jun212019

Seagull Centre Officially Opens

Our much admired Seagull Centre  - a project of which our Council can be justifiably proud was afficially opened today by a bevy of MPs and local body dignitaries. It is one project for which everyone wishes to get a share of the credit!

This incredible enterprise arose from the foresight of a few good citizens some fourteen years ago from a very shaky start in old sheds at the corner entrance to the Council Tip. It has grown exponentially since then with the recent addition of some impressive new buildings and first rate commercial landscaping on land previously used for storing moloks.

Overseeing the operation for the last few years under the oversight of a well-run Trust has been the redoubtable Ric Brown. Ric brought some top flight management to the operation, but will shortly move on with his life, and the Trust will be obliged to try and secure the services of someone of equal capability - he will be a hard act to follow.

Well over 150 attended the opening today and it was a splendid affair - it really brought together a great number of local identities, many of whom have devoted long volunteer hours to the project over the years. Many of the employed workers have disabilities that mean they can only work limited hours, but Ric has the rosters set in such a way that there is always cheery face to greet people dropping off 'stuff,' and able to price and help with the removal of purchases.

Somehow order is created out of apparent chaos, and the financial position of the Trust has improved dramatically over the years. aided mightily by local and national charities. None could possibly quibble over the way in which this really successful local initiative has met the needs of Thames, and the wider community, and qt the same time, contributed mightily to the reduction of waste headed for the Tip.

Congratulations to all concerned!

 

 

 

Friday
Jun212019

Annual Plan For Approval 25 June Meeting

The scheduled TCDC  meeting for 25 June has been designated "Special" for the purpose of passing the Annual Plan that has been developed over the last few months, and which must be adopted by 1 July. .

The $8.8m  increase in capital expenditure that accounts for the major part of the .81% increase in average rates over and above the 4.13% already embedded in the LTP. This is clearly designed to avoid the 1% limit that would trigger the consultation process - the last thing they need in the fraught atmosphere surrounding climate change.

The increase arises from the following manner:

New projects above $300,000:

Thames refuse transfer station second weighbridge - $398,000

Hot Water Beach Bull Paddock and Domain car park sealing – combined $325,000 Roading Preventative Maintenance - $400,000

Rubbish compactors - $550,000

Deferred projects:

Rhodes Park grandstand – deferred out of 2019/20 to consider alignment with southern airfield recreational development

Onemana public toilets – deferred from 2018/19 to 2019/20, received TIF funding Whitianga Transfer station construction - deferred from 2018/19 to 2019/20

Increased expenditure:

Footpath construction budgets for Thames, Coromandel-Colville, Public convenience renewals budget for Coromandel-Colville Hahei Lees Road seal extension

Whitianga Sportsground

Hahei Village car park extension

Whangapoua Beachfront public convenience effluent upgrade – received TIF funding

Hot Water Beach Domain Road and central reserve public convenience replacement – received TIF funding and have been brought forward from later years

Pauanui Royal Billy Point boat ramp renewal and upgrade Wentworth Valley Road seal extension

Roading drainage control Roading maintenance chip seal

Decreased expenditure:

Roading Thin AC surfacing'

(Note that councils are now severely restrained in regard to their ability to introduce new items of expenditure over and above the Long Term Plan on which consultation has already taken place.)

By the way - save a few dollars if you are able by purchasing rubbish bags before 1 July - they will go up by 30 cents from that date

Note also the following rate instalment dates for 2019/20:

a)instalment one15 October 2019

b)instalment two17 February 2020

c)instalment three15 May 2020

This table contains the full summary of what is proposed:

Measure 

Annual Plan 2019/20 

Long Term Plan 

2015–25 for 2019/20 

Total revenue

$98.1 million

$95.9 million

Rates revenue

$68.9 million

$69 million

Operating expenditure

$88.2 million

$87.8 million

Capital Expenditure

$43.1 million

$34.3 million

Average rates increase after growth

4.94%

4.13%

Forecast year-end borrowings

$51 million

55.8 million

Thursday
Jun202019

Sanfords Expanding Big Glory Bay Operation

Here is an interesting story that oginated in Stuff about the Sanfords operations in Bluff and Big Glory Bay.

It shows that King Salmon Marlborough do not have the Chinook (Pacific Salmon) fishery all to themselves in this country, Even though this country has a virtual monopoly on the production of this extremely high quality, high value species, it only constitutes .7% of the World production of salmon overall. And King Salmon may have taken a hit to its reputation as the result of damaging media stories regarding mortality resulting from temperature and pollution problems that it has been having in the Sounds.

I don't carry a candle for Sanfords by any means - they appear to be centering their South Island operations in Timaru, which will no doubt cause consternation in Bluff, but the move to salmon in that area does suggest that this area of the country may constitute the logical location for future industry expansion, rather than having to face the dangerous waters of Cook Strait as King Salmon's Grant Rosewarne seems intent on doing.

Protected cold, high velocity water has been the basis for the vastly greater scale Tasmanian (Atlantic Salmon) industry, though even it too is facing major pollution problems leading to exploratory work off the Albrohos Islands of Western Australia.

Whatever happens, finfish aquaculture remains fraught with difficulty, no matter where it is situated, but even more so in high temperature, low velocity waters as we have here in the Hauraki Gulf. We must remain vigilant to ensure that the many 'experts' and 'boosters' are kept at bay, and the hopelessly discredited industry away from our relatively pristine waters. I for one regard Shane Jones with his half-baked approach to regional development projects as a potential menace in this regard.

Mussels (within limits - say 50,000 tonnes max), good; fin-fish, bad - simple!

 

 

Wednesday
Jun192019

Does Thames Really Need Pseudo History?

This TCDC presser out yesterday draws attention to the laudable effort - of long-time staff member Michael Jones in leading the effort to clean up the area where Pollen St intersects with Queen St at the northern end of the CBD - an eye-sore for sure!.

Michael and his team of volunteers have done a great job making these buildings attractive, and welcoming, but does that really warrant perpetuating the totally false history surrounding the naming of the block "The Foundry."

As any long time resident could tell them, this was never a foundry - at best it was storage used by A & G Price over a long period, and previously a failed marketplace where stall-holders - mainly from the Kauaeranga attempted attain well intentioned permanency. The promoter apparently painted "The Foundry" on the building as a reflection of what was going on over the road at the real foundry operated by A & G Price.

It is not 'big deal,' but the current promoters of the renovation - Thames Business Association, and all those hopping on the bandwagon should perhaps reflect on the need for authenticity when dealing with all aspects of what happens in a heritage town. Call it "Ye Olde Market," or whatever comes to mind, but certainly not "The Foundry," thus perpetuating confusion, and false history that detracts from the real history of the town of which there is plenty to be proud.

I for one am not proud of a falsity being promoted in this manner.

Others are welcome to contribute other history of this site that may provide inspiration for the good people behind the renovation.

 

 

 

Sunday
Jun162019

Here's To Exotic Sydney

Take a look at this great Stuff story from this morning by Anna King Shahab for a real "look behind the scenes" tour of some of the less well known locations in outer Sydney where Middle Eastern and Vietnamese cruisine predominates.

This is the Sydney I grew to love a few long years ago, only better.

I read this and suddenly realised just what we are missing holed up here in our little 'bolt-hole.'  Oh how I would love to make a regular pilgrimage back to the old stamping-grounds across 'the ditch. Come to think of it - what a great way to pass off this mortal coil!

Read this story, absorb the atmosphere, and savour the flavours - never mind the 'mortal coil' bit!

 

 

 

Friday
Jun142019

Valentine Not A Happy Camper!

Regular readers will know that I have frequently commented in the past on the unfolding disaster that comprises the evolving High Country Tenure Review, particularly as it affects the Upper Waitaki and McKenzie Basin and one particular egregious example - Simons Pass Station, and its owner - wealthy Dunedin businessman - Murray Valentine.

Valentine has alone been able to defy DoC's desire to have botanical expert Mike Harding undertake an environmental assessment  survey designed to inform  the Land Information NZ draft substantive proposal to Minister Eugenie Sage by refusing access to Harding with whom he has ;istory' - Harding previously undertook work for the McKenzie Council that Valentine considered inimical to his interests . 

A more amenable reviewer, acceptable to Valentine, in the form of Kate Wardle was appointed by DoC, and the opposing parties including Greenpeace and the Environmental Defence Society are understandably concerned at the precedent setting action by DoC in going along with Valentine in the matter.  The story in explored in a Newsroon story by David Williams today. 

"Why does this matter? Critics say a public agency undertaking work in a high-profile and controversial public process shouldn’t be dictated to by a lessee about the expert it wants to use. For their part, DoC and LINZ say they’re not worried about a precedent being set.

Valentine doesn’t know what the fuss is about, and is adamant there’s no story.

But the up-to-date ecological assessment, to review a property’s significant values and advise the best way to protect them, may affect the outcome of Simons Pass’s tenure review. (The soon-to-be-ended process is a lease-ending decision which privatises some areas, with the balance added to the conservation estate. Payments are made to settle property rights.)

It’s fair to say Valentine has a vested interest in the outcome of tenure review. Simons Pass, which is a mix of private and Crown-leased land, is undergoing a $100-million-plus dairy conversion. If plans come to fruition, it will see 4500 hectares irrigated and up to 15,000 stock animals there, including 5500 cows."

Valentine's proposal is for industrial scale indoor dairying, supported by mega-irrigation for feed production on what to all intents and purposes is an extremely sensitive landscape. It is considered by many to be ultimate insult to the McKenzie - I hasten to declare an interest, albeit minor, inasmuch as it was my favourite stamping-ground during my adolescence in Oamaru.

Greenpeace's Gen Toop says:

“It’s a very dangerous precedent to set, to let people who clearly have a vested interest in destroying the environment – like Murray Valentine who wants to put a mega dairy farm on a fragile piece of land – to rule over a process which is designed to make sure that, before we sell off a piece of public land, we know exactly what species are there, and, therefore, what parts of it might need to be kept and protected in public ownership.”

On the other hand, Environmental Defence Society executive director Gary Taylor doesn’t believe there’s a conflict. He says it’s more likely that Valentine “doesn’t like the rigour of Mike Harding’s analysis”. This tends to reflect Taylor's more laissez faire attitude throughout - one for which he has come in for considerable criticism from those who take the events surrounding Valentine far more critically.

The remarkable mea culpa by LINZ yesterday when it suddenly changed its tone - releasing a report stating  "its system of management is opaque and unfair, and weighted towards farmers" This is a turnabout that may be reflected in the forthcoming announcement by Eugenie Sage on the future of tenure review, and in particular the conditions surrounding Murray Valentines ability to fulfil his ambitions.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun122019

Attempt To Bury Regional Council Report 

The following Newsroom  story highlights the extraordinary efforttaken to 'bury' a highly critical report on the performance of regional councils by Local Government NZ, releasing the 5 month old report at 9am on budget day.

It is well worth a read as it describes the relative performance of the various councils, including our own which has the highest number of employees relative to population - hardly surprising in view of this region having by far the highest number of cows - the major source of the pollution that is a large, if not the largest  part of regional council activity.

But what is of even greater interest is the varying levels of enforcement undertaken - Southland having by far the highest number of prosecutions, whereas Waikato seems intent on maintaining "relationships" - a fat lot of use when a high percentage of those whom you are supposed to be overseeing are intent upon avoidance of the rules. 

But here lies the rub:

"Council reporting is patchy. Some couldn’t even provide an accurate number of complaints they’d received. Of the 29,290 complaints received, about 25,500, or 87 percent, are responded to – but fewer than 9000 in person."

and:

"That leaves the door open for the possibility that political prioritisation prevents some from doing their job. Or, perhaps, a council’s drive to be business friendly translates into little effort on prosecutions, which can be an important deterrent."

For example:

"Canterbury’s regional council decided to confirm irrigation consents for a major Mackenzie Basin dairy farm, against its own ecological advice. And the chief executive of the Otago Regional Council overturned staff advice to approve a controversial extension to a Queenstown skifield.

Generally, the report points to an abysmal lack of oversight, and inconsistency in the application of RMA rules throughout the country. This gives rise to the need for a total reform of the sector in order to achieve Government objectives - something that appears unlikely to happen in the immediate future  due to inbuilt resistance to change that characterises the attitude of elected representatives at every level of local governent.

 

 

 

Friday
Jun072019

Adern Well Briefed On King Salmon Move

An article today in Stuff indicates that PM Jacinda Adern is not about to fall victim to the demands of  King Salmon's CEO Grant Rosewarne for immediate access to the Outer Sounds in order to get them out of the hole that they have dug for themselves on the Inner Sounds, and noted that the argument now appears to be based conveniently on 'climate change.'

Jacinda was clearly well briefed before entering the Marlborough Chanber of Commerce conference yesterday - Rosewarne is a renowned 'net-worker,' and is not at all backward in coming forward to push his case - quite likely to the exclusion  of others trying to get their bids in with the PM on the day.

It is as well that she urged caution in allowing the move by King Salmon - the chances are that they will simply repeat the polution on the Outer Sounds that has occurred on the Inner, and they are not technically equipped yet to tackle the Strait itself though Rosewarne has already indicated thet this is the 'long-term' solution, and that alll they need is Government funding in order to secure equipment that is already available - particularly from Norway.

There is no particular reason why Kiing Salmon should benefit from RDF funding in order to spread their risk as appears to be their ambition, though based on performance to date, Shane Jones will certainly be a willing listener to Rosewarne's proposals. He would be wise to tread just as warily as the PM.

I trust that King Salmon's current flow-rate problems are well noted by the Hauraki Gulf Kingfish boosters.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun042019

Spat Farm Causes A 'Spat'

The Informer  has an excellent story on the Peter Bull's application to establish a spat farm in Mercury By, off Hahai to the chagrin of certain local residents who seem to confuse the sea with land when attempting to extend  the TCDC District Plan definition of 'landscape values' to the waters of the Bay.

Note Dal Minogues comments that the application it appears to be fully compliant with the WRC requirements, and that:

"Mussel spat farming has a benign effect on the receiving environment, the coastal waters, so the environmental effects of [a spat farm in Mercury Bay] in that sense will almost certainly be considered to be ‘less than minor.’ However, the environmental effects also need to be considered against other factors such as landscape and natural character values and the spatial impact of the activity on other marine life. The argument about these things will depend on the material put forward in public submissions and the degree of community concern expressed."  

Spat have traditionally grown and hauled down from Ninety Mile Beach with substantial losses on the way. The thirty hectare farm proposed by Peter Bull and Joe Davis (on behalf of Ngati Hei) appears to be  insignificant in the overall scheme of things, and hugely beneficial for the industry as a whole. 

The objections that Andrew Barber, a spokesperson for Whauwhau Environmental Group Limited related to the proposed farm being situated in an area having “outstanding natural features and landscapes” and “outstanding natural character” appear churlish in the circumstances, and devoid of merit, but no diubt WRC will deal with it appropriately. 

 

 

 

Wednesday
May292019

'Good Decisions,' Sometimes Hurt

Councils are often required to make decisions that can financially disadvantage certain groups of ratepayers that are faced with the unforeseen implications of 'growth.'

This occurs more often as small villages grow into small towns and need proper wastewater and water facilities (e.g. Cook's Beach). There is simply no escaping the fact that at some point, septic tanks are no longer an adequate means  of disposal, and for the overall benefit of local communities, migration to properly engineered schemes becomes inevitable.

It is interesting to watch councillors squirm as they deal how to defend the interests of their constituents who are faced with what are often substantial connection and development contribution costs. An example occurred yesterday as approval was sought for the connection of a group of 10 properties on the edge of Hahei involving costs of some $24,100 per section.

During consultation (required under the LGA), several owners resisted the charge either over one, two, or three years (including interest) because they were not ready to develop, or had what they considered to be perfectly adequate septic, and water (bore) systems.,

Some councillors tried to manipulate the outcome 'every which way' in order to protect people they knew, or for whom they felt sympathy. A break in proceedings was called for after te increasingly impressive Group Manager for Goverance & Strategy, Angela Jane dug her heels in on policy implications of 'little old lady' exceptions to what is firm policy, regardless of Clr McLean's increasing 'discomfort.' 

Mayor Sandra also remained implacably opposed to allowing any exceptions, other than for allowing an much lower 'availability charge' in regard to undeveloped sections - they get captured for the full amount when they apply for consents. But she knows how dangerous McLean can be when he gets on his 'high horse.'

In the end, McLean came back after tea to say that he was now satisfied that the charge was fair, and that he would vote for recommendation. But Clr Brljevich 'abstained' - the usual 'cop-out' adopted by those who lack the 'cojones' to adopt 'good decisions,' using some vague allusion to 'lack of consultation' - total rubbish of course inasmuch as the policy is clear, and consultation is really only pro forma.

The process followed in this case was an exemplary example of a 'good decision' arrived at following a first rate paper and spirited defence by its writer, and councillors eventually doing the 'right thing,' after hearing all the arguments.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May282019

And Last, But Not Least - Denis Tegg

Denis provided a word-less Facebook presentation that have been cunningly designed to capture the attention of the majority of councillors who 'turn-off' when he speaks, and appear to have far more important matters to attend to on their desks.

I strongly recommend that you take good time to look through the presentation, and absorb some of the more disturbing information it conveys. Here it is : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBJTtPFIjNg 

As a counterpoint, it was remarkable to hear Colin Parker of Richmond Villas fame, pleading with Council this morning to change its position on disposing of reserve land on the Thames Wharf corner of his soon to be threatened property now under construction. It seems that he has never managed to convince the Council of the flood danger emanating from the River and tidal creek. Oh well, 'the chickens come home to roost.' I don't like his chances, either way!

Note some of the oblique references in Denis's presentation  to the more remarkable statements made earlier on climate change by our erstwhile Mayor, apparently with the strong support of some more deeply entrenched councillors - all of who appear determined to 'stay the course' through the next election.

I cannot detect a single challenge coming from either centre, or left field, and I am therefore more or less resigned to our status quo being here is here to stay, depressing as that seems. Mark Skelding indicated to me this morning that he refuses to bow to cynicism, so good luck to both him and all those who sail with him.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May282019

Followed by Trish Hatfield


And demonstrating equal acuity is this presentation by Trish Hatfield at this morning's Council, again to a deathly silence. These guys just don't get it :

"FOOD WASTE ~ and what we can do about it!

Good morning and thank-you for allowing me to speak today.

My name is Trish Hatfield and I have a lifelong interest in waste. I have been involved with the Seagull Centre as a trustee from the beginning and am one of the instigators of the Boomerang Bag project in Thames. I am an also organic horticulturalist who has a long standing interest in composting. So put all that together and you have a food waste advocate!

I want to talk about food waste today as one of the contributing strands in the complex web of climate change. Food waste is an issue on a global scale, nationally, regionally, locally and personally. To tackle it as an issue, it needs to be addressed on many levels simultaneously.

Food waste is a major issue in New Zealand. As a nation, we waste an estimated $872 million worth of food a year. That represents 122,500 tonnes of food sent to landfill. This would feed 262,917 people for a year.

Presently, Parliament’s Environment Select Committee is carrying out a briefing to look into ways to prevent the waste of food in New Zealand. The questions it is addressing include:

  • ·                   How much food is wasted in NZ and what are the impacts of this?
  • ·                   How can we prevent this?
  • ·                   How can we redistribute/convert wasted food to people & animals?

On a regional level, there are some very exciting geographically relevant projects happening, one in Raglan and the other in Auckland. Whereas the national interest is at the level of food waste from primary producers and large supermarket chains, the regional projects are focused on food waste at a household level and the impacts of this on our land fills.

The main thing to understand is that when food ends up as waste in our rubbish bags and subsequently at the landfill, it goes through a process of anaerobic fermentation (which means in the absence of oxygen). This process release methane, which is 26 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, if food waste is composted, it reduces or prevents the release of methane during organic matter breakdown.

The Raglan Kerbside Foodwaste collection was one of the first in the country and has diverted 225 tons of foodwaste from going to landfill in the 18 months it has been running. Reducing this amount of foodwaste from decomposing in a landfill is the equivalent of removing 500 cars off the road. Diverting foodwaste from Raglan’s household waste could reduce waste to landfill by up to 20% by weight.

The Raglan project, a pilot kerbside food collection, began in August 2017. Every household was provided with the kitchen caddies, kerbside bin and compostable bags. The Horizontal Composting Unit was built to provide a receptacle for the bags of food waste mixed with greenwaste that had gone through the chipper. The materials travel through the receptacle over a 12 to 14 week period, reaching temps of 65C, getting turned regularly by a digger and resulting in beautiful, weedfree, black compost. They have just completed a year’s worth of compost sales (which continue to increase) and they grossed $25,000.

The project has been fully funded to date by the MfE Waste Min Fund, Waikato District Council Waste levy, and Xtreme Zero Waste, their contractor, to the tune of $300,000. From July 2019 the cost of this service is being considered for inclusion in household rates. The rate proposed is $79.29 per year, which is equivalent to $1.52 per week, and would include the ongoing provision of the compostable bags, kitchen caddy, kerbside collection bin, the collection, and processing of the foodwaste.

Auckland City Council has embarked on a similar journey. Public consultation on the first region-wide Waste Management and Minimisation Plan in 2012, showed over 70 per cent of respondents agreed with introducing a food scraps collection service.

In March of this year, Papakura was the first area in Auckland to receive Auckland Council’s new kerbside food scraps collection as part of a three-bin service designed to reduce the city’s waste. This service will be introduced across all of urban Auckland by 2021.

Each household using the service has been putting out an average of 4.2kg of scraps each week. The food scraps collected are used to create a nutrient-rich compost that is returned to the soil across the upper North Island to grow fruit and vegetables. This helps to complete the nutrient cycle and reduces Auckland’s carbon footprint as a result. Some of the compost created will also be available to community groups as part of Auckland Council’s compost for communities scheme.

In conjunction, Auckland City Council is offering free compost making courses.

I urge the TCDC to implement a food waste service as part of their commitment to reducing waste and climate change mitigation. When reviewing the Eastern Waikato Waste Management & Minimisation Plan (of which the TCDC is part) the first thing I noted was:

Vision: Minimise waste to landfill and maximise community benefit;

And then these Options under Collection & Services:

CS2: Provide a food and or greenwaste collection to householders and businesses AND

CS7: Actively encourage home composting of food and garden waste. Provide shredding services in more remote parts of Districts

So to recap a kerbside collection would provide the following benefits:

  • ·                   Reduce release of methane gas
  • ·                   Reduce waste to landfill by up to 20%
  • ·                   Reduce transport costs of waste to landfill
  • ·                   Save home owner money by using less pre-paid bags
  • ·                   Foodwaste can be made into high quality compost with an economic gain
  • ·                   Reduce bad doors at home and at transfer station
  • ·                   Reduce animal strikes on rubbish bags and vermin at transfer station

I am more than happy to answer any questions and provide support and contacts for furthering these ideas. Thank-you

Other projects in NZ:

Kai Conscious Waiheke - managed by Waiheke Resources Trust & funded by Auckland Council

Project aims to reduce household food waste, connect community &

encourage composting so reducing food waste at source

Started with a pilot in 2013 in Blackpool and then moved to 5 other areas on the Island in 2017. Provided households with food waste container, meal planner, progress tracker etc.

Taking actions like measuring food waste, meal and shopping planning, portioning, and storing food correctly to reduce the amount of food waste you produce, save you money and reduce environmental impacts.

Good morning and thank-you for allowing me to speak today."

 

 


Tuesday
May282019

Mark SkeldingMakes A Stand At Council

Mark Skelding has an excellent grasp of climate change and has a knack of being able to gently push our reluctant bench of councillors in the right direction, though you would not initially believe it when observing our yor's reluctance at today's meeting - rather like dragging a horse to watrer, but failing in digestion aspect.

Here is Mark's submission in full - published by permission, and in full - it is that good:

CO2 Mitigation Suggestions to TCDC – May 2019

We encourage your council to review the stocktake of emissions reduction activities and give thought to which actions undertaken in other councils could be replicated in your own council and community.

Every small change that your council makes to the way in which it operates will ultimately help to reduce emissions.

Every small change that your council makes to the way in which it operates will ultimately help to reduce emissions. While the changes that your council can make might seem minor in the big scheme of things, if wholesale reductions in emissions are to result, all New Zealanders need to make changes to their behaviour. (LGNZ – September 2018)

A New Zealander is responsible for around twice the emissions of someone in the UK, and about 7 times the amount of someone in India. We need to think in terms of per capita emissions rather than per nation, because its not the national entity that needs a climate, it is each citizen.

1: Adopt and promote a “Net Zero Coromandel” policy of reducing the district's greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2035.

This 15 year project would achieve net-zero locally in advance of the New Zealand Government's target date of 2050. This advancement reflects both the urgency of addressing mitigation issues but also the perceived advantages to be gained by becoming a leader in this endeavour which can be achieved here because of our relatively small popluation, the opportunity for developing new employment that net-zero thinking stmulates, and to build on the area's reputation for thinking “outside the box”. Local businessman Don Snowden is anything but a naive dreadlocked treehugger, but when I was talking to him about solar energy he said: “look, everybody thinks the Coromandel is full of hippies and greeneis – if we can turn this to our advantage, we should”.

Ultimately, this would mean that carbon reduction would become an over-riding focus for TCDC planning decisions. For a Net-zero Coromandel TCDC needs to set an example of leadership-

2: Start with a TCDC climate audit on its own premises, activities, business dealings, and transactions.

This would include:

  • •  reporting on TCDC exposure to climate change impacts both materially and financially, and making steps to mitigate these,
  • •  steering TCDC funds towards sustainable in-District investing, and
  • •  directing the Economic Development Unit to make Net- Zero a priority above mere financial objectives.
  • •  TCDC units would develop, maintain and disseminate projections on how climate change will affect the district's economic activities, and highlight and promote opportunities for initiatives to address climate change issues of resilience, justice and equity.

You don't have to believe in human-driven climate collapse to believe that there's a business case to be made here, especially when initiatives to achieve reduced emissions will, inevitably, attract central funding over the years ahead.

Some immediate areas to address are in regard to energy usage, both by TCDC and in the community. For example:

Replace TCDC petrol fleet with Electric Vehicles 

EVs are proving to be economical to run (equivalent to 30c/litre for petrol) and require much lower maintenance costs.                                                                                                                                                   EECA's January round for Low Emissions vehicles has several $100,000 dollars being spent on buying EVs for fleets – Ryman Healthcare, PPCS Cleaners, and more. Thanks to efforts by local people and community groups (yay John and T3)

Coromandel enjoys being the most EV-ready district in the country with fast chargers right around the Peninsula.

That 30c/litre petrol equivalent references using Grid electricity. However, if you were to install solar on Council property, or to enter an agreement with a local solar project, this figure could further reduced. It would be timely to do this since the 2017 Vivid Report into energy noted that to replace fossil fuel energy in New Zealand – primarily transport – would require 75% more generation over 2015 levels. The Vivid report notes that this need is likely to increase “energy poverty” - so

Save money and demonstrate alternative energy solutions by solarising all council buildings -

Eric has been in touch with staff, and has some specific figures on this.

Furthermore, I am delighted to be able to inform you that the

HAURAKI RESILIENT COMMUNITIES TRUST has been established, with Thames Business Association founding trustee Geoff Furkert as chairman. HRCT is committed to locally owned renewable energy, and is pursuing a vision, much as developed in the Thames Urban Development Strategy, to be providing affordable local energy.

HRCT has approached the Toyota company to take up its offer of using the factory rooftop as a solar bank.Infratec NZ has estimated that the roof is sufficient to generate power for around 200 households, and HRCT will shortly be pursuing a full feasibility study on this.

We note that a T3-TransitionTownThames energy research project, enabled by Wintec and local busniessman Carl Edmonds, showed that Thames housholds spent $5.47m per annum on power in 2016 – keeping this money local will create a multiplier effect – in Taupo in 2006 the total expenditure multiplier for energy was found to be 2.92. If this held true in Thames, they effect on the local economy would be equivalent to a $15.97m injection.

TCDC can support the HRCT initiative by becoming acornerstone customer, and by recommending businesses throughout the Peninsula to take advantage of this project as it comes on-stream.

This would be part of TCDC Promoting Emissions Reduction Targets to all Business Ratepayers, which would include energy and waste.

Develop a zero-emissions strategy for waste -

this involves addressing how food waste is kept from the waste stream. As we will hear shortly.

But its also about how ratepayers' money is spent, and so TCDC can ask Smart to have a plan for Electric rubbish trucks (as used in by EnviroWaste in Hamitlon city).

So, as part of the Net-Zero approach, TCDC will have a policy that actively seeks suppliers with environmental sustainability considerations and gives preference to goods and services that use renewable energy sources, recycled and/or non-toxic materials, reusable goods, local companies, with efficient and equitable practice.

We note that local multiplier effects mean that spending a little more, if required, to engage a local company generates greater local economic acivity. As the Taupo example shows, this can be as much as a 3-fold benefit.

There are a number of other suggestions, and some would cost money, which is why I cut to the chase and say how vital it is to look at the opportiunitirs coming from Promoting the Coromandel as a Go-to Leader in Emissions Reductions – why?

I somewhat shudder to say – Tourism!

Promote the District as the ideal way to meet Eco-tourism objectives.

A report published by the Industry last year indicated that 87% of travellers want their tarvel to sustainable and environmentally friendly. But 48% say that this is difficult or impossible for them to do.    A 2016 study by Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research revealed that eco-tourists tend to stay longer, spend more, and believe they have a responsibility to respect the destination.

109,000 international visitors during the summer peak (TCDC 2016/17 Peak Population Report (22 December to 9 January). 50% of these made just a day trip. Most international tourists were from Europe. A flight emits around 92kg CO2 per passenger per hour. A 20 hr flight from Europe would be around 2000kg CO2. Over 40 years, a tree will absorb around 1 tonne of CO2, so planting 4 trees per visitor would be sufficient to offset one flight, and have some insurance against tree loss.

Of course, TCDC can't plant 400,000 trees every year until International Air Travel grinds to a halt or is done on electric powered Zeppelins!

However, there are other projects which tourist dollars can contribute to that will mitigate their CO2 footprint. These include replacing petrol and diesel vehicles, as outlined, and, for example, funding insulation retro-fitting programmes, having loan and grant monies to enable households to equip themselves with solar power, waste minimisation projects, to partner approriate groups to develop community EV schemes, training projects, and so on (as developed by Economic Development Unit).

Its a short term proposal, but one that builds on Don Snowden's sage advice.

Raise awareness of the issues, and what can be done – and do your bit!

As the Bank of England said this month:

"We need to work together internationally and domestically, private sector and public sector, to achieve a smooth and orderly transition. The window for that orderly transition is finite and closing. And our work to seize that opportunity could not be more important. Indeed it is not an overstatement to say that the future of our planet depends on it.

(https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/speec h/2019/avoiding-the-storm- climate-change-and-the- financial-system-speech-by-sarah-breeden.pdf)


 


Tuesday
May072019

Natural Life, On Top On Climate Change

As if climate change was not enough for us to cope with, today's release of trhe a devastating UN Report on the earths natural  life.

 "Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, the world’s leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.

From coral reefs flickering out beneath the oceans to rainforests desiccating into savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report.

The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction – all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, compiled over three years by more than 450 scientists and diplomat".

But what is major interest to this country is the following extract related to dairying:
"Meat and dairy production uses 83% of farmland and accounts for 58% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions but only 18% of food calories

0%
25
50
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100

Meat and dairy account for 83% of farmland
58% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions
57% of water pollution
56% of air pollution
33% of freshwater withdrawals
Provides 35% of protein

Thursday
May022019

The Universal Remedy - Appoint a Consultant 

Suddenly, 'out of left field' TCDC has taken the unremarkable step of appointing an international consultant to provide the remedies needed to deal with climate change effects on our coastal environment. 

And if this apppears a substantial change of directing, just consider for a moment the following statement by our Mayor in the PR reeased today to announce the appointment:

"the appointment is one of the proactive steps our Council is taking in response to the challenge of climate change for our communities.

"The Coastal Management Strategy is something we have been working on for quite some time as part of our focus on ensuring our communities are engaged, prepared, protected and safe in the long-term,"

This is a cheeky segue from her previous position pleading ignorance of the imminent dangers, and the extent of human causes. For that we should all be relieved, and perhaps now we can get on with real planning for the future - the consultant appointed appears on first sight, really well qualified. for the task .

This PR is a remarkable coincidence coming on top of the previous post . I just hope that the terms of reference are fully cognizant of the needs of those communities threatened with inundation, as well as those claiming precedence for erosion protection.  

Evidence to date does not support this presumption.

 

 

Tuesday
Apr302019

Inundation v. Coastal Erosion

This article that appeared in today's Stuff is instructive in regard to the situation faced by our Council, and points up the contrast between inundation, and coastal erosion - the two conditions are often confused, as suggested in my previous post.

"As seas continues to rise, the cost to hold them back is growing. While New Zealand's coastal communities look to shore up their defences against crumbling coastlines, one seaside council is clear where the responsibility for private property lies.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council has set aside more than $16 million for one damaged sea wall and is currently reinforcing another temporary wall, at a cost of $400,000, while it decides on a permanent solution. The Council  is spending $400,000 to shore up a temporary sea wall. Despite the work, the message is simple: the council will not defend private property.

Kāpiti's coastal erosion issues were highlighted last month when plans for a managed retreat inland were announced by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

While the regional council plans its retreat, the Kāpiti Coast Council has set aside $16.8m for the damaged Paekākāriki seawall: a project that was expected to cost $10.9m in 2016 and now won't be completed until 2023. In the meantime, about 9000 tonnes of rocks are being stored at the council's depot to reinforce the temporary wall if needed.

Further along the district's coastline, the $400,000 project to shore up a temporary wall at Raumati Beach  is underway. Built of concrete blocks, the wall cost $200,000 in 2016. Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan labelled the district council's work on Raumati Beach as '"the tip of the iceberg". The council is using stones and blocks to firm up a temporary sea wall, built in 2016.

While the council did not defend private properties against erosion, the wastewater reticulation running in front of the 11 beachfront houses had to be protected which meant the properties were also fortified against the waves.

Along its 42 kilometre coastal stretch, Kāpiti had about 1800 properties potentially affected by various levels of coastal erosion issues.

"How long can we mount a defence, how much will it cost and who pays? These are the challenging questions now and especially into the future."

Kāpiti Coast District Council general manager Sean Mallon said the current work would reinforce the block wall "for a good few years" while council explored longer-term options before consent expired in 2025. "This strengthening work is what we need to do right now to ensure our infrastructure is doing what it should and to protect our community."

Insurance Council New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said rising sea levels were a major issue for coastal communities throughout New Zealand and it was good to see Kāpiti working to address the issue. "There's no doubt the sea is rising and that will continue through this century and into the next.

"If you have properties frequently damaged by events, insurers respond by increasing premiums and excesses or, ultimately, not offering insurance cover at all."

Kapiti clearly has a different issue with the danger to substantial infrastructure in the form of water and waste-water facilities. Protection of yjese facilities leads to consequent protection for much private property, and incidentally, a 'hotch-potch' of coastal erosion stuctures and revetments along the beach.

What I fear is developing here is the idea that East Coast, property owners threatened by coastal erosion have a God-given right to Council protection, while the Council eschews responsibility for providing any protection to property within the Gulf threatened with king-tide inundation.

Indeed, our Mayor has categorically stated that the Council has no responsibility to provide further protection for West Coast properties (e.g. Moanataiari, Tararu and Te Puru)  threatened in this manner, while allowing all manner of protection to be planned, and executed on the East Coast.

Naturally, property owners in the former category feel strongly about the apparent discrimination implicit in the favouring of the relatively well-off East Coast property owners in this manner. It is a policy that could easily 'slip under the radar' and become established unless Thames councillors remain constantly vigilent, and  aware of what is happening. 

Paying a generalised rate to cover the cost of the extravagant East Coast waste-water schemes is one thing - paying for their erosion protection is 'adding salt to the wound.'