ORC toughens consents stance

Stephen Woodhead
Stephen Woodhead
A new tougher enforcement stance should give consent holders who fail to meet basic requirements a "little prod" to do better, Otago Regional Council deputy chairman Stephen Woodhead says.

More than 70% of consent holders audited each year for the past three years had minor non-compliance with consent conditions, council audit monitoring has shown.

Chief executive Graeme Martin said at yesterday's compliance committee meeting, the enforcement procedures formalised a move from "tacit tolerance" to something firmer.

The council had to be prepared to pursue, in court, those who did not take compliance seriously as a "heavy handed" approach might soon get the message across and prevent further non-compliance, he said.

Director of resource management Selva Selvarajah said it was hoped the new enforcement procedures would improve or achieve consent compliance.

The council had requested staff look at enforcing non-compliance and as a result enforcement procedures for consent conditions for auditing, performance monitoring and water meter installation had been developed, he said

"It is fair, but firm. It will send a message to people."

However, there would be opportunities given to consent holders to comply with conditions before using any of the enforcement options, he said.

"If there is ongoing issues we'll look at prosecution as the final solution."

Most of the minor non-compliance related to not getting information into the council on time.

A "three-strikes" approach had been taken to performance monitoring before any non-compliance was considered by the council's enforcement group.

Audit non-compliance was more complicated, with many of the consents relating to issues which might require several millions of dollars worth of work to improve or achieve compliance, he said.

An option for negotiation or a transition programme had been included for serious non-compliance in these cases.

Cr Stephen Woodhead said the procedures were practical and sensible.

Consent holders were adding "time and hassle" to the council, which was costing it money, he said.

"A little prod to consent holders should push them along, make work more effective and efficient and keep costs down for both parties."


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