THE NATIONAL POLICY STATEMENT FOR INDIGENOUS BIODIVERSITY received over 7000 submissions – But nothing from the Rotorua Lakes Council, Federated Farmers lodged a substantial 200-page submission on the NPSIB after their analysis of the proposals triggered serious concern as to whether regional and district councils had the resources, both in terms of staff and dollars, to meet the requirements which will be imposed on them by central government. This concern has been widely shared by councils across New Zealand who, on behalf of their respective ratepayers, used the public consultation process to push back strongly on the proposed implementation costs. We see a lack of capacity and capability to implement the NPSIB as proposed and the associated costs, creating issues will be created by new requirements that are heavily reliant on regulatory intervention and will increase pressure on consents, monitoring, and compliance teams.
The purpose of the NPSIB is to set out objectives, policies and implementation requirements to maintain indigenous biological diversity. The NPSIB is set by central government but it will be implemented by local government and will be paid for by ratepayers not taxpayers. The strict timeframes embedded within the NPSIB must be met by every council across the country which will further exacerbate the stretch on resources. These costs will vary but preliminary analysis undertaken by one council concluded that they would be unable to achieve compliance with the milestones and timeframes in the NPSIB, with projected costs requiring a 6% increase in rates, spread over three years, to cover the identification requirements alone
I was disappointed this week to learn that a Federated Farmers member Neil Heather was informed that Rotorua Lakes Council very rarely submits on central government policy because they are under resourced. This revelation came as Mr. Heather asked a senior manager at RLC for a copy of their submission on the proposed National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity (‘NPSIB’).
RLC had plenty of time to prioritize limited resources, a lengthy consultation period of over three months was provided by the Ministry for the Environment in recognition that these proposals introduce significant new requirements and will impose significant new costs on councils”. Submissions closed 14 March 2020.
It is simply astounding that RLC has pointed to a lack of resources as the reason they didn’t submit against a proposal which is going to require significantly more resources to implement An Official Information Act request last year revealed that RLC had resources to spend over $800,000 on a regional council planning process which, unlike this situation, had nothing to do with them.