Council considers building ban and new forestry rules
New dwellings may be banned and more stringent forestry rules introduced for some slip-prone catchments in Tasman District.
As the cleanup continues from the damage wrought on February 20 by ex-Tropical Cyclone Gita, Tasman District Council is reviewing its land disturbance rules.
Those rules cover all manner of land activities, from minor vegetation removal to earthworks for subdivisions and plantation forestry operations.
The rain that arrived with Gita led to multiple slips on pockets of land in the district, including areas of grassland, native forest and plantation forest. Many of those slips were on land with Separation Point granite soils, a strip of extremely erodible granitic bedrock about 10km wide that extends for more than 100km from Separation Point in Abel Tasman National Park to Mt Murchison.
The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry came into effect last Tuesday, overriding the council’s existing planning rules for dealing with new and existing commercial forestry operations.
(The Nelson Mail, Monday 7 May 2018)
Disharmony over new name
The Nelson School of Music’s new name is drawing criticism from the community, with some saying it should have stuck to its original name.
The 124-year-old landmark became the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts (NCMA) a few months ago, following a year-long consultation process aiming to make the school more inclusive.
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said neither she, nor councillors, or Nelson City Council staff had been part of the consultation process. The council is one of the school’s stakeholders and one its biggest funders.
NCMA board of trustees chairman Roger Taylor said it had received ‘‘reasonably little’’ feedback on the name change.
NCMA director James Donaldson said the new name better reflected the range of activities it offered to the community.
Nelson Symphony Orchestra committee chairperson Richard Wells said it took him a while to get his head around the new name. ‘‘[But] I think it’s perfectly appropriate for the beginning of a new era for the school.’’
(The Nelson Mail, Monday 7 May 2018)
Cutting back on forestry
Nelson City Council is retiring more than a fifth of its forestry blocks and building a wetland along the Maitai River, in response to concerns about the environmental impact of forestry practices both locally and nationwide.
The council last week released Niwa research linking pine plantations to environmentally damaging fine sediment in the Maitai River, amid calls for stronger controls on forestry companies operating in the Maitai catchment.
While the Niwa research was helpful, pastoral land, bank erosion and urban development were also known contributors of sediment in the region’s catchments, the council’s group manager for strategy and environment, Clare Barton, said.
The council itself was estimated to own about 322ha of forestry in the Maitai and Brook catchments, or around 12 per cent.
The council planned to retire some of its steep hillside forestry plantations, based on independent assessments undertaken about two years ago, group manager for infrastructure Alec Louverdis said.
The land would be replanted with permanent species, other than pine, he said.
The council was looking at introducing an ‘‘in-stream limit’’ for sediment in new rules for freshwater in the Nelson plan.
It was also building a trial wetland at the bottom of Groom Creek, designed to interrupt the pathway of the sediment to the river, which it hoped would work as a blueprint for other forestry operators.
(The Nelson Mail, Wednesday 9 May 2018)
Springs order 'would stifle development'
Special protection for Golden Bay’s Te Waikoropupu Springs could stifle the Takaka dairy industry and hurt small family farms, a tribunal has heard.
Submissions against the granting of a Water Conservation Order for the springs were made at a special tribunal hearing in Takaka this week.
Hamama dairy farmers Cherrie and Robert Chubb said they stood to be disproportionately disadvantaged by a conservation order due to their farm’s location, size and reliance on irrigation.
They said future challenges like climate change and flood mitigation had been overlooked by the applicants, iwi Ngati Tama and Andrew Yuill.
The Chubbs said they were concerned about a misconception among submitters that sinkholes were directly connected to the aquifer and that the groundwater levels were close to the surface. On their farm, they had observed otherwise.
The draft order threw doubt over the continuation of pre-existing activities like fertilisers, herbicides and the discharge of effluent, and there was uncertainty around securing a new water consent for their farm, they said.
Federated Farmers said the order should be placed just over the springs, but not the aquifer and the Takaka and Waingaro rivers.
Golden Bay president Wayne Langford said too little was known about the aquifer and how the hydrology of the waterways worked; therefore, there was uncertainty about what might degrade it.
The draft order created uncertainty about farmers being able to apply anything on the land, he said. A sustainable community was just as important as protecting the springs.
(The Nelson Mail, Friday 11 May 2018)
New therapeutic pool may replace Ngawhatu
A therapeutic pool to replace the Ngawhatu Pool has been proposed to the Nelson City Council during public submissions on the region's Long Term Plan. The proposal was to replace the pool, which closed in 2015. Sarah Kennedy of the Ngawhatu Pool Users Group said the cost of building the pool could be covered by grants and council funding. The pool would be for users who were undergoing rehabilitation or who had disability or age-related difficulties. Kennedy said that based on numbers from the old Ngawhatu Pool, if the proposed new pool kept its users out of hospital for just one day, it would save $2.5 million in health costs.
(The Nelson Mail, Friday 11 May 2018)
Prefab buildings' popularity is good news for Nelson firm
A Nelson-based company that helps to make prefabricated buildings has invested $35 million in the business, as it anticipates a boom in the market for prefab homes.
XLam is New Zealand’s only manufacturer of cross laminated timber (CLT), panels of layered timber boards used to make certain prefab buildings, which are buildings that can be largely constructed off-site.
The company expects a more than 30 per cent increase in domestic capacity as a result of a $5m upgrade at its Tahunanui plant, which is currently capable of producing enough CLT to build more than eight houses a week.
A $30m XLam factory opened in Australia in March, would also be able to supply timber for the New Zealand market, chief executive Gary Caulfield said.
‘‘We can manufacture a 12-unit apartment block in four days here and drop it off on site, and somebody can take three months to fill it in.’’
Savings from faster build times offset higher material costs, Caulfield said.
New Zealand had been slow to support prefabricated buildings compared to Europe, the United States and Australia, he said.
However, Westpac this week announced a pilot scheme to test a mortgage lending system for people wanting to build a prefabricated home, and ‘‘all options’’ were being explored as part of the Government’s Kiwibuild scheme, Caulfield said.
CLT, an alternative to concrete, was also sustainable, using timber from Sequal Lumber in the North Island for the New Zealand market.
(The Nelson Mail, Saturday 12 May 2018)
Thought for the Week
There is no such thing as a failed experiment,
only experiments with unexpected outcomes.
(Richard Buckminster Fuller)