Strategy and Policy Committee Informal Workshop Pack
DATE: Thursday 28 September 2023
COMMENCING AT TIME: 9.30 am
VENUE: Council Chambers, Ground Floor, Regional House, 1 Elizabeth Street, Tauranga
Informal Workshop Papers
1 Freshwater Policy Programme: Direction for Regional Natural Resources Plan drafting 1
Attachment 1 - Draft policy recommendations for in principle approval 2
Attachment 2 - Previously approved in principle draft RPS policy 2
2 Mount Maunganui Airshed Work Programme 2
3 A biodiversity credit system for Aotearoa New Zealand: draft submission 2
Attachment 1 - Draft submission on "Exploring a biodiversity credit system for Aotearoa New Zealand" 2
Informal Workshop Paper
Strategy and Policy Committee Workshop
28 September 2023
Nicola Green, Principal Advisor, Policy and Planning; James Low, Team Leader Policy (Freshwater); Glenys Kroon, Senior Policy Analyst (Water Policy); Jill Owen, Senior Planner; Michelle Lee, Planner (Water Policy) and Julie Bevan, Policy and Planning Manager
Namouta Poutasi, General Manager, Strategy and Science
This report outlines and seeks direction on significant policy recommendations for inclusion in the draft Regional Natural Resources Plan (regional plan) change for the following topics:
· Activities in wetlands and in the beds of lakes and rivers;
· Take, use, damming and diversion of water; and
· Discharges to land and water.
Direction is sought now, so that Regional Policy Statement (RPS) and regional plan change drafting can continue with confidence that it is “on the right track”. Only “in principle” direction is sought because tangata whenua involvement, public engagement, and section 32 evaluation assessments continue, and staff recommendations may change as a result. Councillors will consider the full draft changes to the RPS and regional plan in December 2023, when approval to release draft changes will be sought. Final policy decisions will be sought in 2024, before proposed RPS and regional plan changes are notified in December 2024.
Only substantial policy shifts are being reported. These may have significant environmental, social, cultural, or economic implications. Staff acknowledge there are many matters of detail in policies and rules, and some may become more contentious or get elevated to significant in time as drafting progresses.
2. Guidance Sought from Councillors
Direction to draft the Regional Natural Resources Plan (RNRP) in accordance with the recommended policy outlined in Attachment 1, to be endorsed at the next Strategy and Policy Committee meeting on 31 October 2023.
3. Overarching policy direction already approved in principle
The Committee approved in principle freshwater related policy direction for draft changes to the RPS (land and freshwater domain in particular) and for the draft regional plan Integrated Management and Tangata Whenua chapters at their 8 August 2023 meeting. These provide important policy direction for the activity chapters of the regional plan discussed below, and so the draft direction relating to the RPS is re-attached to this report for information only (Attachment 2).
4. Draft policy direction for activities in wetlands and in the beds of lakes and rivers
A summary of proposed draft policy direction follows.
4.1 Beds of lakes and rivers
Activities in the beds of lakes and rivers are addressed by section 13 of the RMA. The following activities can only occur if expressly allowed by a national environmental standard, a rule in a regional plan (including a proposed regional plan), or a resource consent:
· drilling, tunnelling, or otherwise disturbing the bed;
· introducing or removing plants;
· depositing substances; and
· reclaiming or draining the bed.
Under certain circumstances, existing activities that were previously permitted or authorised can continue without a consent, even if a new rule requires consent for the same new activity.
The NPSFM directs Council to insert the following policy wording into the regional plan and this is already inserted.
Required policy: The loss of river extent and values is avoided, unless the council is satisfied that:
(a) there is a functional need for the activity in that location; and
(b) the effects of the activity are managed by applying the effects management hierarchy.
This is very constraining policy, and all policies and rules currently controlling activities in the beds of rivers within the operative RNRP needed to be reviewed with this new policy lens.
Council is also required by the NPSFM to set the following objective for fish passage in the regional plan (already inserted), and to set directive requirements in the regional plan to provide for fish passage.
Required objective: The passage of fish is maintained, or is improved, by instream structures, except where it is desirable to prevent some fish species in order to protect desired fish species, their life stages, or their habitats.
Operative objectives, policies and rules have been reviewed, and significant recommended changes are outlined in Attachment 1.
4.2 Activities in natural inland wetlands
Activities in natural inland wetlands are managed under Section 9 of the RMA (restrictions on the use of land). The premise of this section is more enabling in that people can use land unless the activity is controlled, i.e., no person may use land in a manner that contravenes a national environmental standard a regional rule, or a resource consent. However, the NPSFM has very prescriptive, constraining policy direction to achieve no further loss of natural inland wetlands, their values are protected, and their restoration is promoted.
It directs Council to insert specific policy wording into the RNRP and this is already inserted (Attachment 3). Furthermore, the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater Management 2020 (NESF) includes an extensive set of national rules controlling activities in or near natural inland wetlands. These regulations do not address plantation forestry activities, which are subject to a different national regulation that was gazetted in 2017, before the NPSFM 2020 and NESF 2020. The regional plan can only be more stringent than either of these regulations. As a result, several provisions will be removed from the regional plan, and only a few narrow policies and rules are recommended, as outlined in Attachment 1.
4.3 Activities on the margins of wetlands, lakes and rivers
Land use activities near wetlands, lakes and rivers (such as within riparian margins and setbacks) are addressed by policies and rules in the proposed Land Use and Disturbance chapter (formerly called Land Management chapter) and are not addressed in this paper.
5. Draft policy direction for take, use, damming and diversion of water
Take, use, damming and diversion water are addressed by section 14 of the RMA. These activities can only occur if expressly allowed by a national environmental standard, a rule in a regional plan (including a proposed regional plan), or a resource consent. There are a couple of exceptions:
1. People can take water for an individual’s reasonable domestic needs, or for a person’s animals for drinking water where this does not, or is not likely to have an adverse effect on the environment.
2. Water can be taken for fire and emergency purposes.
The operative regional plan Water Quantity and Allocation chapter was reviewed, and a proposed plan change (PPC9) was notified in October 2016. It was then withdrawn in February 2020 due to a range of reasons, including the pending updates to national policy direction, and the interim nature of the plan change. Some of the policy change recommendations in Attachment 1 reflect those in PPC9 (and are marked with an asterisk), while others advance to address the new national policy direction and some of the shortcomings of the current regional plan and PPC9.
6. Draft policy direction for discharges to land and water
Discharges of water or contaminants to water, or to land where they may enter water, are addressed by section 15 of the RMA. These activities can only occur if expressly allowed by a national environmental standard or other regulations, a rule in a regional plan (including a proposed regional plan), or a resource consent. The operative regional plan already addresses a range of point source discharges. The main recommendations for amendment are outlined in Attachment 1.
Regional plan change drafting and section 32 evaluation reports will be developed and refined to reflect the in principle direction provided by the Committee.
Councillors will consider draft RPS and regional plan change implications and text at Committee workshops in October and November 2023.
A decision will be sought from the Strategy and Policy Committee in December for targeted release of the draft RPS and regional plan change for feedback from January-March 2024.
Attachment 1 - Draft policy recommendations for in principle approval ⇩
Attachment 2 - Previously approved in principle draft RPS policy ⇩
Informal Workshop Paper
Strategy and Policy Committee Workshop
28 September 2023
Mark Hamilton, Senior Policy Analyst
Namouta Poutasi, General Manager, Strategy and Science
This report is to update the Committee on the introduction of a draft work programme for the Mount Maunganui Airshed (MMA).
2. Guidance Sought from Councillors
Seek Committee agreement in principle for the draft work programme, whilst noting that approval will be sought for key associated decisions.
The discharge of contaminants to air is a significant problem within the MMA. Plan Change 13 - Air Quality (PC13) was notified in 2018 to manage air quality throughout the entire region, however, subsequent monitoring data and information has shown that the MMA experiences ongoing air quality issues.
Shortly after its gazettal in 2019, the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) designated the MMA polluted for PM10. Furthermore, emissions of odour and other contaminants also cause health and amenity concerns, and emissions in the MMA have been the subject of external reports, such as the recent “Air Pollution: Health Risk Assessment Mount Maunganui”, commissioned by Toi Te Ora.
The Environment Court’s (the Court’s) Interim Decision for the appeal to PC13 “strongly recommended” an airshed management plan (AMP) to coordinate actions to manage air quality within the MMA. This report is to present an MMA work programme, including the development of an AMP, to the Committee.
3.1 PC 13 and Environment Court
The Court has released an Interim Decision on the appeal to PC13 to the Regional Natural Resources Plan (RNRP). This decision strongly indicates the direction the Court will take in its final decision.
The principal matter before the Court is an appeal on Rule AQ R22 which requires resource consent for handling of bulk solid material and logs within the MMA.
The appeal was referred to the Court in early 2020 and the process has been prolonged by Covid-19 lockdowns and the complexity of the legal and technical issues.
The Interim Decision was released in January 2023. Although not a final decision, it strongly indicates the direction the Court will take. Staff briefed the Committee on the Interim Decision at the 28 March Strategy and Policy workshop. At this workshop, staff informed the Councillors that the next steps were to assess all the decision’s directions and recommendations to present to Councillors as a draft work programme for the MMA.
3.2 Court Directions and Recommendations
At the time of writing this report, the Court’s Final Decision for PC13 has not yet been released and some of the ensuing actions for Council may change as a result. However, substantial amendments to the Final Decision are unlikely as the parties involved are focussed on the wording of the rules and policies in these final stages of the appeal process.
The Court’s directions and recommendations are based on an equitable approach to managing PM10 emissions from different sources in the MMA.
There are three ‘levels’ of actions, in the following hierarchy:
1. Court determinations – The Court directs Council to make amendments and Council must comply.
2. Court directions – The Court directs Council to carry out processes and Council must comply.
3. Strong recommendations – The actions are beyond the scope of the appeal; therefore, the Court cannot direct Council to carry them out. However, the Court, having considered substantial evidence, considers these actions are necessary to achieve the objectives of PC13.
Additionally, there are Court Notes or comments where the Court has commented on matters outside the scope of the appeal that may need further investigation and review.
Despite being outside the scope of their directions, the Court is well placed to make recommendations and comments on any work programme for the MMA as they have examined extensive evidence on this matter. However, the final decision on which actions to implement, and in what order, is (except for Court directions) for Council to make.
3.2.1 Court determination
The Court has determined that Council is to amend PC13 to add (at this stage) two new policies, three new rules, and amend or add various definitions of terms, as required. These provisions will be limited to the MMA. All provisions will manage bulk solid material and log handling [Part A of Interim Decision]. One of these policies (Policy AQ P12) will also refer to most other activities which discharge PM10 in the MMA.
This is the natural output of the Environment Court process, and staff will make amendments as directed and keep the Committee informed of progress.
3.2.2 Court direction
The Court will also direct Council to prepare changes to PC13 according to s293 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to include the control of emissions of PM10 from unsealed yards into the MMA [Part B]. For simplicity, this report will refer to this process as the ‘s293 extension’.
Staff have already begun work on new policies and rules for the changes to PC13 required by the s293 extension. Draft s293 extension provisions were filed with the Court on 11 August, in accordance with its direction. Staff are compiling a list of stakeholders and will begin consultation in the next few months. Staff will keep the Committee updated on the process.
3.2.3 Strong recommendations
The Court has strongly recommended that Council use advocacy to encourage KiwiRail to investigate and implement practicable mitigation measures progressed with a minimum of delay (due to the proximity of residential dwellings) [Paragraph 194]. Staff note that as the KiwiRail site is unsealed, it will be part of the s293 extension process.
The Court also strongly recommends that Council takes an advocacy role to encourage initiatives to reduce PM10 emissions from those activities that are not regulated under the RMA . This action can be discussed as part of the development of an AMP (see below).
The Court strongly recommends that Council prepares an AMP for the MMA. The Court makes it clear that the decision to prepare an AMP sits with the Council, but that they are ‘strongly of the view that one should be prepared.’ [239, 428-430].
The preparation of an AMP to manage a polluted airshed is considered good practice and this would assist with the overall management of air quality in the MMA. An AMP could also include discussion around management of other contaminants of concern such as sulphur dioxide and odour.
Staff agree with this recommendation and will begin work on the AMP process once the s293 extension is underway. Further details regarding the scope and possible content of the AMP will be discussed with the Strategy and Policy Committee at a subsequent meeting.
3.2.4 Review existing resource consents
The Court strongly recommends that Council reviews existing resource consents under s128 of the RMA as soon as reasonably practicable .
As staff have explained to the Strategy and Policy Committee, on 28 March 2023, neither the Court nor the Council can override the RMA or current consent conditions to review existing consents unless there is an appropriate review clause.
However, staff have already begun to ‘desk check’ conditions in the existing resource consents. This check is assessing matters such as review clauses and expiry dates to ensure staff have an up-to-date understanding of the nature of the existing resource consents for discharges to air within the MMA and the extent to which PM10 discharges may be able to be reduced.
3.2.5 Review effectiveness of interest forums
The Court has strongly recommended the review of the effectiveness of current industry and community interest forums at addressing issues arising from the management of PM10 in the MMA [357, 360].
3.2.6 Court notes and recommendations
During the process, the location of Council’s air quality monitors was extensively discussed. The Court noted three matters for Council to investigate further and each of these matters are about the Rail Yard South (RYS) monitoring site not being representative of a location where people were present and being exposed for 24-hour periods.
Although the RYS monitor has been removed, the Court’s concerns extend to Council’s long term Totara Street site. The Court has since made clear in a recent Minute that this issue has not affected the outcome of their decision and it is a matter for Council to determine.
The Court notes that it considers it essential that the Council reviews the annual average guideline value for PM10, including to consider the World Health Organization’s guideline values  and any revised national values set by the MfE . Any use of guideline values to set limits for the MMA will need to be discussed by the community as part of the AMP development.
The Court notes that Council should investigate why there are almost 30 dwellings in an industrial zone as it has potentially significant consequences for future air quality management of the MMA . The Court did not count another 48 dwellings close to the Rata Street monitor as they had considered them to be outside the airshed. Council has corrected the Court, stating that these dwellings are inside the boundary and Court has acknowledged this in their recent Minute.
Staff are awaiting the results of the recent census to be able to carry out a follow up investigation. Initial results indicate that there could be more than 200 such dwellings. This is a matter that can be discussed with the Tauranga City Council separately.
3.3 Air Pollution: Health Risk Assessment Mount Maunganui
A report commissioned by Toi Te Ora, “Air Pollution: Health Risk Assessment Mount Maunganui” (APHRAMM) assessed health risks of exposure to identified air pollutants in the Mount Maunganui area, with the aim of key interested parties collaborating to reduce discharges. As key regulator authorities within Mount Maunganui, the Regional Council and Tauranga City Council’s (TCC) ongoing and future work programmes to manage the identified air pollutants are indicated below:
· Existing monitoring programme for PM10, PM2.5, and SO2 at reference grade monitors within the MMA.
· A network of 11 Clarity monitors (PM10, PM2.5, and SO2) to give visitors to the Council’s website an indicative real-time reading of air quality in Mount Maunganui residential area.
· Regulatory Compliance programme to proactively check odour discharges at identified key industrial sites within the MMA.
· The APHRAMM report noted that existing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) monitoring, conducted by Waka Kotahi, does not assess peak NO2 concentrations for residents close to roads and motorways. The Regional Council is to introduce NO2 monitoring at Whareroa Marae and within the Mount Maunganui residential area to complement that done by Waka Kotahi.
· The APHRAMM report noted limited monitoring of benzene in the MMA. Benzene belongs to a class of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are monitored by the Regional Council in the vicinity of the Port. However, Council’s VOC monitoring is designed to detect Methyl Bromide which is measured at higher levels than benzene.
Several earlier periods of benzene-specific monitoring have shown a reduction in recorded concentrations. This reduction has also been noted elsewhere in New Zealand, for example, in Hamilton, where the Waikato Regional Council is to discontinue benzene monitoring. The Regional Council is, however, investigating another benzene monitoring deployment at Mount Maunganui to see if current recorded levels remain well below guideline levels.
The Regional Council and TCC have agreed to lead a response with Toi Te Ora and MfE to produce an aligned plan to respond to the Toi Te Ora APHRAMM report.
Tauranga City Council
TCC is working with partners, local businesses, the wider community, and other interest groups to create a 30-year plan that sets out how the Mount Maunganui Industrial area develops. The purpose of the industrial study is to plan for the future of the industrial area and identify a programme of actions which considers current issues and the needs of all stakeholders. Those issues include future land use, cultural and social impacts, natural hazards, air quality, transportation, and economic growth. The Mount Industrial Planning Study and the Mount to Arataki Spatial Plan are due to be completed in December 2023 and will set out priority actions to take.
A range of possible intervention options are currently being assessed, which range from voluntary initiatives (and existing monitoring and compliance by Bay of Plenty Regional Council) through to regional and/or district plan changes. Land use intervention is likely to involve a package of actions, which will require delivery by TCC, the Regional Council, Toi Te Ora, Ministry for the Environment, Waka Kotahi and businesses in the Mount Maunganui industrial area.
At TCC’s Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee meeting held on 26 June 2023, the evolving directions to date for the Mount industrial area were noted as:
For the Mount Industrial Area, investigate regulatory and non-regulatory tools to enhance the existing and future environmental quality outcomes and amenity of the area, which may include:
i. Environmental accord with businesses
ii. Landscaping treatment (private and public realm)
iii. Stormwater treatment and stream restoration
iv. Creating buffer areas with sensitive areas, i.e., Whareroa community and residential areas
v. Introduction of light industrial areas to support progressive change to appropriate uses where they interface with other activities.
TCC can only effect change for future uses of the land, through change in land use or new land use, which requires a plan change to the Tauranga City Plan. Engagement with all partners and stakeholders would be required through the RMA. It is important to note that, as per legal advice received earlier this year, TCC cannot address existing uses that have existing use rights under the RMA.
3.4 Plan Change 18
At the 16 February 2021 Committee meeting, staff recommended that a plan change be developed to improve air quality within the MMA. Informally referred to as “Plan Change 18” (PC18), there has not yet been a need for Councillors to make a formal decision to progress a plan change. However, initial work on draft provisions was carried out before guidance from the Court for the PC13 appeal indicated a possible overlap between the two workstreams.
The proposed scope of the plan change is limited to particulate matter and odour within the MMA; no other contaminant or discharge to air will be included. PC13 would continue to apply to the rest of the region, as well as to the Mount Maunganui Airshed.
The development of the future proposed PC18 will depend on the direction contained within the Court’s Final Decision for PC13. Staff would look to first tackle the items identified by the Court as most urgent, including the AMP. The undertaking of this work will help guide staff to what needs to be subsequently addressed by regulations in PC18.
To avoid overlapping workstreams and competing demands on time, staff will be mindful of Resource Management Reforms and the Freshwater Programme to consider when PC18 might progress.
4. Indicative Work Programme
The following indicative Mount Maunganui Airshed work plan includes the likely prioritisation and high-level timeframe for each item:
PC13 - make Court-directed amendments
Dependent on Final Decision, likely before end of 2023
PC13 – s293 extension
Dependent on Final Decision, but likely to commence late 2023
Airshed Management Plan
Following commencement of s293 extension
Review effectiveness of interest forums
Following PC 13 Final Decision
Review of air quality monitor locations
Investigate dwellings within MMA industrial zone
Review annual average guideline value for PM10
Following s293 extension
Advocacy with emitters
Following PC 13 Final Decision
Review of consent clauses
Plan Change 18
To follow s293 extension
Note: Both the priority and the timing of each item is subject to change and depends on factors beyond staff control.
5. Next Steps
The next steps are for staff to receive and analyse the Court’s Final Decision for PC13 and identify what determinations, directions, and recommendations it contains for Council. Once these are confirmed, Staff can begin to address the various component parts of the MMA Work Programme. Regular updates to Council will be provided as key items from the Work Programme are undertaken or completed.
Informal Workshop Paper
Strategy and Policy Committee Workshop
28 September 2023
Santiago Bermeo, Senior Planner
Chris Ingle, General Manager, Integrated Catchments
To seek guidance and/or any specific feedback on the draft submission attached.
The Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation are currently undertaking high-level public consultation on a biodiversity credit system for New Zealand. Consultation closes on 3 November 2023.
When the Committee considered the recently introduced National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB), at its meeting on 8 August 2023, staff advised about the intention to submit on the current consultation, subject to Councillors’ agreement.
The purpose of this paper is to present Councillors with a draft submission (attached) and seek your agreement to submit this, on behalf of BOPRC. Alternatively, you could provide specific feedback to staff on the submission before finalising it, or could direct staff to not submit on this consultation. The draft submission responds to specific consultation questions in the discussion document only. The submission was drafted with input from across BOPRC, including from the Land Management, Biosecurity, Climate Change, Planning and Environmental Strategy Teams.
3. Key points
Key points raised in the submission include:
- Agreement with the preamble of the discussion document that New Zealand is facing a biodiversity crisis, and that traditional funding sources would be insufficient to address it, and therefore with the need for a framework for biodiversity credits.
- There is a need for a more strategic approach to biodiversity/conservation activity in New Zealand, which biodiversity credits can support.
- We consider additionality would be a key principle for any biodiversity credit system, in other words biodiversity credits should primarily allow “to get more good stuff done rather than save money on what we are already doing”.
- This would be particularly important in relation to the public conservation estate; while biodiversity credits could provide an alternative source of funding to manage it, biodiversity credits should ideally complement central government funding for managing these areas, not replace it.
- In the Bay of Plenty, we consider biodiversity credits could help to:
o establish new saltmarsh and wetlands;
o establish new native forests;
o deliver pest and weed control effectively and efficiently;
o protect threatened species and habitats;
o provide incentives for private landowners to act for biodiversity; and
o deliver climate co-benefits (for both sequestration and adaptation).
- The government could play a key role in providing oversight for a national framework for biodiversity credits to ensure their integrity, but also leadership and direction about biodiversity priorities and progress towards desired outcomes.
4. Next Steps
Subject to the Committee’s guidance and/or any specific feedback, staff would submit the attached response to the consultation document, on behalf of BOPRC.
Staff understand that Te Uru Kahika will also be making a sector-wide submission, although this has not been drafted yet. Subject to Councillors’ agreement or any feedback, staff could share our draft submission with Te Uru Kahika also. Staff can update Councillors on any progress with the Te Uru Kahika submission during the workshop. Obviously, we would like to align with the sector-wide response as far as possible.
Attachment 1 - Draft submission on "Exploring a biodiversity credit system for Aotearoa New Zealand" ⇩