Coromandel Watchdog
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:21AM
Bill Barclay

One of the matters that informally came before the DPRC Meeting yesterday was a document that outlined Coromandel Watchdog's concerns in regard to the fulfilment of all of TCDC's obligations under the MoU entered into with various environmental groups in 2009.

It again demonstrated the inability of this Committee to come to grips with the critical and difficult issues surrounding its deliberations. It seems to think they will go "go away". 

This six page document arose from the decision of Courts through to the High Court, ands Court of Appeal that rejected attempts to impose blanket prohibitions on mining through the Proposed District Plan in 1997. This had been challenged by the NZ Minerals Industry Association, and Ministry of Economic Development, and had been subject to litigation since 2004. This caused the stalling of the development of the new District Plan, until the MOU, and the current Draft Provisions that continue to recognise the CW concerns. The Committee is yet to deal with the manner in which the SNA/OL issues are to be resolved to meet the widely diverging views of CW, and the protesting landowners. I do not understand just how this resolution can be delayed indefinitely. Here are critical provisions from the MoU: 

1.7 The parties wish to avoid litigating the issues which arise in relation to the NZMIA
and MED appeals relating to the provision for mining both now and again in the
context of the proposed Landscape Plan Change / new Proposed District Plan in
two or three years time.

1.8 In light of the above, the parties (along with the Department of Conservation,
NZMIA and MED) have agreed to adopt an approach to the resolution of the
NZMIA and MED appeals that will provide an appropriate basis for District Plan
control for the period of time until TCDC notifies the proposed Landscape Plan
Change or new Proposed District Plan.

1.9 On that basis, those parties have agreed to settle the MED and NZMIA appeals
on the understanding that the settlement has been reached for the purposes of
enabling the resolution of the NZMIA and MED appeals without the need for
further litigation and without prejudice to any position that parties may take with
respect to the activity status for mining or other activities, or other related
provisions, in the context of the proposed Landscape Plan Change or a new
Proposed District Plan.

Basis for settlement

1.10  The parties have agreed to settle CWH’s, Thames ES’ and Tairua ES’ interest in
the NZMIA and MED appeals on the basis of the agreements set out in this
memorandum of understanding. Briefly, those agreements require that:

(a) TCDC uses its best endeavours to notify a proposed landscape Plan
Change or new Proposed District Plan by June 2012; and

olution. This agreement does not fetter the Council’s discretion in that regard.

b) CWH, Thames ES and Tairua ES agree to execute the joint
memorandum of the parties to the NZMIA and MED appeals in support of
the draft consent orders attached at Appendix A which, if granted, will
resolve the NZMIA and MED appeals in their entirety.

1.11  The parties acknowledge that the decision to promulgate a proposed Landscape
Plan Change / new Proposed District Plan and to implement a programme of
works for those purposes must be made by Council resolution and such decisions
may be altered or revoked by Council resolution. This agreement does not fetter
the Council’s discretion in that regard.


2.1  Subject to a resolution being passed by Council, TCDC agrees to use its best
endeavours to implement the programme of works referred to in paragraph 2.2
and to notify either a proposed Landscape Plan Change or Proposed District Plan
by June 2012.

In essence, the Courts held that the blanket mining prohibition was unsustainable in the absence of of appropriate landscape provisions, and these are deeply mired in the current SNA (Significant Natural Areas) debate. Readers will note that the screaming and yelling that has gone on since the unfortunate dispatch of the SNA letters several months ago has obscured the intent and objective of meeting the concerns of the courts regarding the proposed blanket prohibitions. It is as if this whole exercise was being undertaken with the sole intent of 'stealing' rights if not actual land and property of land-owners. Most appear to be totally unaware of this as they proceed with protest, and demand that the SNA process be abandoned.

This ignorance has been further cultivated though the loud mouthed intervention of none other than our ex-member of Parliament. You may now understand why the powers that be within National found her to be totally dispensable, and witness the manner in which NZH correspondent Claire Trevett defers to her opinion on all matters concerning local government - she even brought her in to the Waipa amalgamation story in today's paper.   

The kafuffle has brought about a reaction by Coromandel Watchdog, as evidenced in its submission yesterday that in effect sought sought to preserve its 'preferred' status as the 'official' environmental guardians of the Peninsula. It is interesting to note that Member Ian Munro warned the meeting of the danger of providing this group with any kind of privileged access, saying that to do so could give rise to subsequent loud complaints from other groups, including not co-incidentally, Tangata Whenua. A bit late for this I would suggest!

The submission tabled yesterday was not necessarily intended for my hands - but it was distributed in open meeting, and there is no legal way that it could be hidden from the media, of which I was the sole representative. 

The following are extracts from the Submission and my comments:

"We have been clear, prior to and in our first meeting with Council, that we were never satisfied with the compromise made in this agreement and only participated in the agreement to allow the council to have an operative plan for the time being. We are now participating in the District Plan Review process and have included our proposal for the new District Plan here.

We expect, despite recent political misadventures, that TCDC will clearly identify these areas (SNA's) either by including the SNA/OL maps in the District Plan or refer to them in the District Plan as a separate council document with equal weighting. If the latter is the case we expect both the District Plan and the SNA/OL documents to be made operative at the same time. 

Industrial-scale mining (open cast and underground) is an inappropriate activity for areas requiring protection in particular SNA's/OL's and the Coastal Environment  (CE)."

The Submission goes on to support the current SNA/OL maps on TCDC website as being good examples of what is required, though they have of course been widely condemned by many within the land-owner sector of the community. 

It goes on to propose that Council apply a prohibited activity status for mining activity in the SNA/OL and those parts of the CE (Coastal Environment) included within the CZ (Coastal Zone). It goes on to suggest that Council would otherwise fail to meet its obligations to protect areas from inappropriate development. It further rejects 'offsetting' adverse effects as an option.  It then indicates support for a "presumption in favour of public notification", in relation to activities associated with exploration and mining, either on public or privately owned land, and full notification for all such resource consent applications.

There was an element of confusion around the table until Member Ian Munro's belated warning regarding "privileged" status from groups such as Watchdog. Members quickly latched on to this, and discussion on the document ceased with no conclusion reached. 

The CW submission makes some pointed comments regarding the delays in the Landscape Plan Change: 

"Watchdog does not want a repeat of the delays and lack of consultation that characterised the last plan review. We note that it does not look like Council will make the June 2012 deadline of presenting a Draft District Plan/Landscape Plan Change. We are concerned at these delays and see a need for more rigorous consultation.

To date Council has undertaken inadequate consultation with Watchdog. This is in breach of the MOU. TCDC appears to have pre-determined its position on SNA's. This is also in breach of of the MOU. Watchdog reserves its position on these issues and seeks clarification as to TCDC's position on these matters".  

Members of this Council appear to have a cavalier attitude towards MoU's (witness the Cycleway), and I suspect that the one with Watchdog will come back to bite. Current members demonstrate a complete ignorance of the significance of WC, and its role in permitting the progress to today's version of the Draft Provisions. They had better make themselves familiar, pronto! Watchdog is not about to go away, and contrary to the apparent sanguine attitude of some DPRC members, this dog has teeth. 




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