Friday, November 20. 2009
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The investigation into Far North District Council’s performance in processing applications for resource consents will start on Monday 23 November, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
Dr Smith said independent consultants Mark St Clair and Brent Cowie will carry out the review by 4 December and report back to him in January.
"I announced this investigation as a result of the Far North District Council’s poor performance in processing just 37% of resource consents within the statutory timeframes – a decline from 51% in the previous survey in 2005/06,” he said.
"I acknowledge the council has taken some steps over the last year to improve its performance in this area. However, I believe an external review is necessary to identify the issues and to assist the council to fix their consent processing problems.
“The primary focus of the review is to examine guidance around applications, monitoring systems, customer feedback, staffing resources and processing systems. It is limited in scope to resource management functions, unlike the wider investigation into Environment Canterbury.
"The prosperity of the Far North district is highly dependent on the efficient management of its natural resources. This review is about improving the council’s RMA function to deliver decisions on time for the people and businesses in the Far North.
"These appointments and the review timetable have been discussed with Far North District Council. Any final recommendations on ways to improve council performance will be reported to the council following the report back to me,” Dr Smith said.
Far North Review Team
Mark St Clair
Mark is a Director of Hill Young Cooper Ltd; a public policy and resource management consultancy with offices in Auckland and Wellington. Mark has 18 years resource management experience in local and central government and consultancy roles. He has considerable experience in statutory resource consent applications and policy formulation for both public and private sector clients, and is also an accredited hearings commissioner.
Dr Cowie is an aquatic ecologist by training, and has more than 25 years experience in resource management. This has included 12 years as the manager responsible for all the resource management functions of the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council. A consultant since July 2001, Dr Cowie recently completed a report for the Ministry for the Environment reviewing the processing of TrustPower's application by Marlborough District Council to operate a hydro-scheme on the Wairau River.