ORC consent applications tumble

Selva Selvarajah.
Selva Selvarajah.
A downturn in the number of resource consent applications being lodged with the Otago Regional Council is a reflection of the state of the Otago economy, council resource management director Selva Selvarajah says.

Revenue the council received from resource consents has dropped 54% in the past five years while applications have dropped 11.4%.

Between the 2007-08 financial year and 2011-12 there had also been a 53.5% drop in consents decided, figures released by the Otago Regional Council show.

The most recent figures for last year up to November 9 showed 167 consents had been lodged and in the four months to October resource consent fee revenue had dropped 6% compared with what was expected.

Dr Selvarajah said in the past two years there had been a reduction in consent applications.

There was a trend of new applications, as opposed to those needing renewal, dropping since 2008 as the large number of applications relating to new subdivisions declined, including developments at Cardrona, Luggate and Jacks Point.

Publicly notified projects, the most costly, had dropped from 75 in 2008-09 to 12 in 2011-12 and decisions on publicly notified applications dropped from 267 in 2007-08 to 74 in 2011-12..

''It's a reflection on the regional economy. Things seem to have slowed down,'' Dr Selvarajah said.

A large backlog had been created in the mid-2000s because demands outstripped council resources. There were also more large projects, such as those related to Contact Energy, in that period.

''A lot with sunset clauses requiring resource consents came through - like [those] from old irrigation schemes - and were sitting in the system.''

The council employed more staff to deal with consents and then in 2009 the Resource Management Act streamlining process required consents to be dealt with in a more timely manner.

''So from there it has gone down quite a bit.''