Consents process reviewed

16:00, Mar 03 2014

A review of the type of resource consent applications hauled before the Environment Southland consents committee is under way, after questions were raised about the committee's form and function.

A report prepared by Environment Southland policy planning and regulatory services director Vin Smith says the resource consents referred to the committee should be limited to those that challenged council policies or were new or novel.

"The nature and complexity of resource consents applied for from Environment Southland has changed over time, reflecting increased economic activity and the intensification of land use.

"The current system of resource consent referral, along with the nature of resource consents referred to the consents committee, imposes additional workload for staff and councillors," Mr Smith said.

The report comes after questions were raised about the form and function of the consents committee, in particular the type of consents being considered by the committee and the nature of the conditions and monitoring imposed, he said.

"The consents committee must remain efficient and effective as resource consent numbers increase. It is therefore timely to consider how the consents committee will operate going forward."


While Mr Smith would not be drawn on what the changes could be, he said the work would benefit consents staff, the committee and the applicants.

"We're just trying to see what areas we can improve on."

Environment Southland consents manager Stephen West said the changes would help consent officers in terms of workload, particularly with the many consents coming through.

Staff would sometimes query why some consents had to go before the committee, particularly those considered minor and with good compliance history, he said.

"I think they find the process of that can be difficult at times."

The report is part of a wider project in which the Environment Southland council had sought a report from the chief executive on potential changes to the scope, structure and roles of Environment Southland committees.

The Southland Times