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throughout New Zealand are feeling under siege from regional councils,
district councils, and external lobby groups who are not part of their
living, working communities.
Spatial planning has
spawned an avalanche of costly, staff driven micro management initiatives,
for significant natural areas (SNAs), landscape, amenity, and
biodiversity, affecting rural private property. Planning maps now identify
everything from a blade of grass to a dog kennel.
For example, the
Waikato Regional Council Long Term Plan listed 20+ documents, driven by
staff, with most requiring community input.
As the Waikato
Regional Council drives these planning documents forward, they are so far
removed from their constituency base they do not understand the needs and
aspirations of the actual communities they are purporting to represent,
undermining local democracy and private property rights.
There is little
constituency understanding of the policy that is being driven by staff,
with undue influence by funded lobby groups not representing the majority
of people who live and work in the community. In addition, the term
‘affordability’ seems to be lost in space with the Waikato Regional
Council rate demands growing year by year.
As a consequence,
the Waikato Regional Council are embroiling themselves in making decisions
that are being contested vigorously on a number of fronts.
A challenge has been
lodged to oppose the creation of two Maori constituencies when the area
already has elected representation. Apart from being race based,
substantial cost will be attached. Little constituency feedback was sought
before the decision was made with the only opportunity submerged by a
national election, the Rugby World Cup and Christmas. A petition has now
been launched to give people the chance to vote against the proposal -
essentially a vote of no confidence in the current regional council.
A substantial group
of property owners established CLOUT – Coromandel Landowners United - to
challenge the Waikato Regional Policy Statement and its SNA, landscape,
and biodiversity provisions, employing a QC to assist. All at their own
cost in both time and money. Thousands
of property owners received letters identifying their properties has
having SNA values from the district council. As it turned out, the move
was being driven by the regional council staff, ably assisted by the
Department of Conservation.
None of the property
owners had been consulted before the Waikato Regional Council identified
these properties on planning maps in their Regional Policy Statement. A
hard core team got together and a meeting was held in Coromandel town to
meet with representatives from Waikato Regional Council and Thames
Coromandel District Council. Only two staff showed from Regional Council,
but there was good representation from the District Council. 250 property
owners turned up. There had been no public advertising of the meeting.
From there, CLOUT was established and a database of supporters began,
which now numbers in the hundreds. CLOUT is committed to monitoring and
responding to as many of the documents put out by the regional and
district council as possible. There is no funding, but where necessary, a
QC will be engaged. What other choice is there when councils are driven by
contrast the not-for-profit group the Environmental Defence Society (EDS)
is fed and watered by government (taxpayers), and to a lesser extent
regional and district councils (ratepayers) to push their demands and
create costly battles for taxpayers, ratepayers and communities.
have ingratiated themselves so far into the government system that they
have two signed agreements with the Ministry for the Environment – a
‘Strategic Relationship Agreement...’ and a separate ‘funding
date they have secured close to a $1 million over the last 5 years from
government departments. This doesn’t include the money given to them by
regional and district councils, who are constantly in debt and raising
recently EDS advertised for an Environmental Legal Advisor to, among other
things, case manage EDS’s litigation program. Who do they litigate
against? Councils (ratepayers), communities, and consent applicants.
Effectively, we pay them to cost us more.
When the Ministry
for the Environment created a Technical Advisory Group, EDS created its
own and crows about its influence on government. This raises serious
questions about the integrity of the system, especially when government
are paying EDS and consulting with them to an extent not afforded to other
The Government has
signed up to listing EDS’s events on the government website. This
suggests a tacit endorsement of their ideology.
As well, government
has also agreed that ‘where possible’ government will assist EDS in
sourcing additional funding from external sources.
Why is it that
government listens more to those that feed off the system, rather than
those subjected to it?
ratepayers who end up bearing the cost of the
ideologically-driven activism by EDS, need to know how a tiny
environmental group has been allowed to gain this amount of influence and
easy taxpayer money when ordinary kiwis are struggling to pay their taxes
Nothing could be
more dubious than relationships and agreements such as this with so-called
property owners fund their own battles and all too often against the likes
of the EDS, funded by government!
There is something
very wrong here.
download Sandra's petition to eliminate the Waikato Regional Council’s
new Maori wards - which they unilaterally imposed without consulting with
their community - click here>>>
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