Published: 16 August 2018
A Forest and Bird report released this week regarding Regional Council compliance, monitoring and enforcement (CME) of the dairy sector in 2016/17 shows the potential benefits of a national methodology for reporting in order to better understand CME performance across regions.
“Regional councils take their regulatory role in compliance, monitoring and enforcement very seriously, which is reflected in the continuous improvement process regional councils undertake to evaluate and improve their CME practice,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“LGNZ’s Regional Sector is working with the Ministry for the Environment to develop a fit-for-purpose national reporting system to enable regional council compliance, monitoring and enforcement practices to be compared between regions.”
“Forest and Bird have used an apples versus oranges approach in their report when comparing compliance, monitoring and enforcement between regional councils, as each council monitors and enforces according to the conditions of a resource consent and the planning approach taken is specific to their region,” says LGNZ Regional Sector Chair Doug Leeder.
“Using the raw compliance data, such as the volume of enforcement actions taken by a council, as a proxy for environmental impacts doesn’t take into account the different rules across the country. A national reporting methodology will provide a much better platform for comparing data across different regional councils, and will take those differences into account, so we’ll be able to compare apples with apples.”
“The sector acknowledges that transparency and analysis is important, however the methodology used by the Forest and Bird researchers has led to inaccuracies in the report. These could have been avoided through engagement with the sector, and we’d welcome that in the future.”
“For example Waikato Regional Council data has been misinterpreted to imply significantly non-compliant farms had not been visited for 10 years. This was because the report did not take into account council’s aerial monitoring programme which was in place prior to 2014. These previously compliant farms only became non-compliant 2 years ago so are now actively managed by council.”
“Waikato Regional Council took more than 180 enforcement actions for breaches of the RMA on dairy farms in 2016/17, including four prosecutions – the third highest number in the country that year, indicating that local rules are being monitored and enforced.”
“Regardless, regional councils recognise that a better national reporting system for compliance, monitoring and enforcement is needed and we are pleased to be working with central government on its development,” said Mr Leeder.