More consultation processes in the works

It must be the season for government entities to be spreading consultation documents that relate to outdoor recreation. Here’s a quick summary of three particular consultations that are going on at the moment about legislation that might affect outdoor recreation.

Building Code Compliance Documents for New Zealand Back-Country Huts

Until 31st October, the Department of Building and Housing is accepting submissions on its proposed compliance documents for the Department of Conservation to use in building and maintaining back-country huts.

This is closely related to the consultation of the Building Code document which I posted about back in June. The compliance documents, however, are designed to accompany the building code. Rather than being an overall plan of how things should work, these ones state some quite specific engineering and building requirements that DOC will be expected to follow when it builds huts. The advantage of this is that they’re tailored very specifically to DOC’s requirements, as opposed to the current situation where DOC has been having to do some quite ridiculous bureaucratic things to stay in compliance with building codes that haven’t been very relevant to the back-country environment anyway.

I’m not a builder or an engineer, but I found Part F (Toilets and Grey Water) to be an interesting read, because until now I’d never realised that so much documented detail went into the design of long drops.

One point that befuddles me (although I’m sure there’s a good reason) is point 1.7.4(iii) to do with the design of back-country long drops, which states that “Windows shall be non-opening and, if located in the wall, the window shall face either west or south”. The previous point already stated that skylights aren’t allowed, so I guess a window that’s not in the wall would have to be in the door… and in that case it can be facing any direction (to give the occupant a great view, of course). Now I’m really keen to know why windows shouldn’t be facing east or north, however. Maybe it’s something to do with the direction the Sun is most likely to be coming from.

Tararua District Plan

I posted earlier that the Tararua District Council was flooded with submissions from major wind-farm-friendly power companies when it put its Draft District Plan up for consultation, and that many of those submissions seek to do things that seem a little suspect, like removing provisions from the plan that protect the “Skyline of the Tararua Range” and the “Skyline of the Ruahine Range”. Until 3rd of October, the TDC is still seeking feedback about those submissions that it received, and I’ve been trying very hard to read them.

It would have been much less painful if the power companies had been as brief, direct and clear as the person who simply stated “The confiscation of private land for road reserve without consideration for fair value is extortion, unconstitutional and an abuse of statuatory authority.” Unfortunately power companies pay lots of people who specialise in writing these kinds of submissions, and they tend to come with lots of detail and bickering about terminology amongst the more important things.

Nevertheless I did survive reading it, although I’m still not sure I’ve appreciated the complete essence. For what it’s worth, I posted my observations about the submissions over at the WTMC forum.

A couple of weeks ago I was intent on making a submission, but I’m no longer sure if I’m quite as interested, because it seems to me that most of the submissions relate more specifically to the Tararua District and might not have a huge effect on the recreational areas in the Tararua Range. Because of this, I don’t really feel that it’s my business to start making submissions about what goes on in that region when I don’t live there, and my main interaction with it is to drive through on the way to the nearby mountain ranges.

You tend to start off feeling quite angry and motivated with these things, but then find out it’s actually quite boring. Then you fall asleep and dream about kittens, and aren’t quite so angry by the end of it. It’s probably why controversial submissions are written this way, too.

A national policy statement for Renewable Electricity Generation

This probably wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if there hadn’t been the recent controversy around wind generation in the Tararua District, but a friend pointed out to me that the Ministry for the Environment (so many ministries) is accepting submissions for its “Proposed National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricty Generation”. It’s actually a very short document and is intended to be a broad overview of how decision making processes should be directed when considering applications under the Resource Management Act.

It’s worth a look, and the actual policy is visible here. I did notice that there doesn’t seem to be a specific mention of anything like Recreational Values. It probably belongs somewhere in Policy 2.

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