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Hutt City Tops MFE Survey

The Ministry for the Environment recently released results of a 1999/2000 survey of local authorities on Resource Management Act practice, which showed Hutt City continues to be one of the top performing local authorities.

* 92 per cent of non-notified resource consents were processed within statutory time frames, the highest level achieved by local authorities in its peer group (national average was 83 per cent);
* 95 per cent of notified resource consents were processed within statutory time limits (national average was 62 per cent).

"These levels have been consistently achieved within a declining operating cost budget and high customer satisfaction environment," said General Manager, Customer Services Stephen McArthur.

"A deliberate strategy of giving authority to staff to seek agreement between parties, rather than resorting to expensive and time consuming hearings, was the key to Hutt City's continued high performance.

"The Council is pursuing strategies of economic development and the processing of resource consents can play an important role in contributing to positive and sustainable development.

"We want to ensure that initiatives are given every chance to succeed, while balancing the interests of everyone involved."

Hutt City is also towards the lower end of the scale in terms of cost recovery.
* $1552.50 for notified consent (average was $4,190);
* $225 for a non-notified consent (average was $573).

Over the last three years there have only been 16 appeals to the Environment Court with just one of Council's decisions (a Commissioner's Hearing) overturned. This represents an appeal rate of 0.25 per cent compared with a national average of one per cent.

The survey establishes relative performance between local authorities and covers areas such as consent processing statistics, time limits, cost recovery, good practice, monitoring and enforcement and Maori participation.

Over the past three years Hutt City's survey results have been audited and verified by Audit New Zealand, which is optional to each Council. Hutt City is in the Group Four category of local authorities, which process between 651-7000 consents annually. Hutt City processes around 700 resource consents a year.

ENDS


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