Newsline 309 - 11 October 2013

Friday 11 October 2013

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You can also download: Newsline 309 - 11 October 2013

Reservoir Creek Dam Decommission

The Council has recently awarded a contract to Downer NZ Limited to decommission the Reservoir Creek Dam in Richmond. Work will involve the installation of a new spillway from the reservoir, which will lower the water level in the reservoir by approximately 2.5 metres. The work is required to reduce the potential risk of failure of the dam structure in the future.

Work began on 9 September 2013 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The dam was built in the 1800s as a water supply source for Richmond Borough, it has not been used for this purpose since the 1970s and has shown some signs of failure in recent years and the existing spillway is inadequate.

While the work is being carried out there will be no public access to the dam. A new walking track is planned to provide access past the dam once the works are complete. Public access will no longer be available on the existing private road.

The work will take place on Council land with access through Cropp Place, Easby Park and a right-of-way over private property. The Council welcomes feedback on any aspect of the works, particularly if the project affects your property.

You can view the project’s progress on the Council’s Construction Webcam at www.tasman.govt.nz, search ‘construction webcam’.

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Tasman District Council Awarded Positive Rating

Standard & Poor’s has completed an extensive evaluation process and issued the Council with a long term AA- credit rating with a stable outlook.

The rating is the same as the country’s four major trading banks, and only one step below that of Auckland and Wellington councils. It is a positive reflection of the Council’s financial management and maintaining it will require less borrowing than forecast.

The annual credit rating review will give the Council, and external commentators, the ability to measure its financial management and the impact of the changes envisaged at the conclusion of the planned review of the Council’s financial strategy. In the meantime the rating agency’s scrutiny will provide a level of constraint and will certainly assist the Council to set clear financial limits.

A higher rating is possible if the Council’s financial performance significantly improves. Maintaining the rating alone will require careful management of the Council’s capital program and a reduction in forecast debt levels.

In addition, the rating gives lenders an internationally recognised and respected framework to judge us on and therefore enables us to secure lower interest rates. The immediate benefit in having the rating is that the Council will save 10 basis points (0.1%) on most of its borrowing costs and in some instances more.

What is a Credit Rating?

Credit ratings are opinions about credit risk published by a rating agency, in this case the multi-national financial company Standard  & Poor’s. They express opinions about the ability of an organisation, such as a council or government, to meet its financial obligations.

Standard & Poor’s rating should not be viewed as an assurance of credit quality or an exact measures of the likelihood of default. Rather, it denotes a relative level of credit risk that Tasman District Council presents.

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Rural Land Use and Subdivision Rules Review

Ongoing Pre-Engagement Exercise

Over the last 15 years the Tasman District has experienced continuing pressure for subdivision and development, particularly residential development, in rural areas including on land with high productive value.

As a result the Council has embarked on a community engagement process to obtain information about:

  • How rural housing rules could be changed to reflect demands from the rural community;
  • The value to be placed on productive land while managing demand for subdivision; and
  • How best to manage the effects of business activities in rural areas.

This is the first stage of a thorough review in which the preferences of the Tasman community are being collected, discussed and included in the development of proposals for further discussion. This consultation process is focussed on gathering information to ensure the views and preferences of those who contribute are included and considered within the decision-making process.

The drop in sessions and public meetings have been designed to encourage discussion, allowing people to air their concerns and interests as well as being an opportunity to hear the views of others. The sessions that have been held so far have been relatively popular, with some venues busier than others. An estimated 185 people have attended a session.

  • The next Rural Land Review session takes place on Tuesday 15 October 2013, 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm at the Richmond Council Chambers.

These drop in sessions form only part of the engagement process, which runs until 29 November 2013.

Interested people and organisations can read the background information that the Council has prepared, and fill in the feedback forms on the Council’s website, www.tasman.govt.nz. Print copies of the documents can also be picked up from Council’s Office and Service Centres.

Once the engagement exercise is finished, the community feedback will be considered by the Council. Then, a draft plan change will be developed, which will be circulated for public comment. Thereafter, a plan change will be notified and the formal plan change process regulated by the Resource Management Act commences. This formal process provides further opportunities for public input.

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New Senior Management Role Filled

Susan Edwards is the Council’s new Community Development Manager, a new role created by the recent organisational changes. The new role essentially combines the former roles of the Strategic Development and Community Services Managers. The previous Community Services Manager, Lloyd Kennedy, retired earlier this year. Since that time Susan has managed both roles.

Susan, previously the Council’s Strategic Development Manager, was selected after an open recruitment process which created a great deal of interest with a number of high calibre candidates stepping forward.

The Community Development department is responsible for strategic policy and planning development; delivering front line customer and community services including the libraries and recreation activities and facilities; and provides the link between the Council and the community. Following Susan’s appointment the strategic development and community services departments are being restructured to meet these requirements, a process that will be complete by December 2013.

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Recycling Bins for Christmas

Believe it or not the summer holiday period is fast approaching, and this is traditionally Council’s busiest recycling period. For many households a single recycling bin is not enough and so Council is making it easier for everyone to get hold of an extra bin. It’s much easier and safer for our contractor if materials are in an official bin – cardboard boxes and fish crates are not really suited to the job.

Each household within the rating area for recycling is entitled to two recycling bins and extra bins are now also available from Council Service Centres as well as Council’s Resource Recovery Centres.

If you’re looking for rubbish bags, these are also available at Council Service Centres, and now come in two sizes: the original white bags and the big yellow bags.

So next time you’re at Council you can pick up rubbish bags and an extra recycling bin for the summer holidays.

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Time is Running Out to Have Your Say

12 noon this Saturday, 12 October 2013, is the absolute deadline for you to cast your vote in the Local Government Elections 2013. If you haven’t posted your voting form  by 10 October 2013, then you can deliver it in person to one of the Tasman District Council’s facilities listed below.

Any voting forms received after 12 noon on Saturday 12 October 2013 will not count towards the final results.

  • Tasman District Council Office (and for special voting) 189 Queen Street Richmond
  • Motueka Service Centre 7 Hickmott Place Motueka
  • Murchison Service Centre 92 Fairfax Street Murchison
  • Takaka Library 3 Junction Street Takaka

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New Biocontrol Agent Released

Caterpillars of an unwanted Australian immigrant, the Gum Leaf Skeletoniser (GLS), were found in Tahunanui in 2010. Pheromone* trapping indicated the Nelson population, while small, was too well established to be eradicated.

The GLS was originally found in Auckland in 2001 but it was too widespread to be eradicated. Over the last nine years, it has spread around the upper North Island.

The caterpillars can impact on humans as well as on trees. They are covered in protective hollow spines containing venom that can cause itching and rashes if they touch skin. In sensitive individuals, they can produce painful welts that last for several weeks. The hairs of dead caterpillars or those on skins shed during moulting retain their ability to sting.

The young caterpillars feed on the softer green leaf tissue of gum leaves, avoiding the veins, leaving a skeletonised appearance. The older caterpillars are capable of eating the whole leaves. As well as feeding on several common species of eucalypt, the caterpillars can damage silver birch, copper beech, plum and some species of oak.

Biological control is the most effective way of keeping caterpillar numbers down and slowing the rate of spread of the adult moths.  Scion (previously the Forest Research Institute) selected a small Australian parasitic wasp as the most promising agent after extensive testing. These wasps have been successfully released around the established populations in the upper North Island.

In August, foliage containing young GLS larvae were collected and sent to Rotorua and exposed to the parasitic wasp in controlled conditions, where they injected eggs into the larvae. The foliage was brought back to Nelson by a Scion scientist and attached to trees containing the GLS larvae with the assistance of a Tasman District Council biosecurity officer and a contractor. The Council will continue to monitor the spread of GLS in our region and the effectiveness of the biocontrol agent.

Caterpillars can be easily identified by the following:

  • A body covered with many long hairs
  • Pale yellow colour with black and grey markings
  • A distinctive black ‘hat’ on their head. ‘Hats’ are taller on older caterpillars

If you suspect Gum Leaf Skeletoniser caterpillars, avoid handling them and prevent children from touching them. For identification or more information, contact Biosecurity staff at Tasman District Council on Ph. 03 543 8400.

*A pheromone is a chemical released by an animal or insect that triggers  a response in members of the same species

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