Auckland Council has been considering a new Water Strategy and changes to waste bylaws. Feedback from the Rosebank Business Association has resulted in some useful amendments.
Our Water Future-The ‘Our Water Future’ Strategy looks to set a framework across all water issues in the region so that the Council is prepared when it needs to make decisions about how to manage water.
A key recommendation arising from the Association’s advocacy is that the Strategy will now include the importance of water for businesses, industries and economic development. Water will also look to be valued for commercial and business purposes alongside other values.
Recognition has been given to finding new water supplies to accommodate population and business growth beyond 2050. Council will also look to work directly with industry and business in developing future planning processes. Further, the Strategy will include a priority to identify revenue sources to pay for water infrastructure that equitably shares the burden of the costs of cleaner water across the community instead of relying just on rates and targeted rates.
Trade Waste Bylaw- As all business premises across Auckland discharge waste into the public wastewater system, Auckland Council decided they must all be regulated under the new Trade Waste Bylaw, either as low risk dischargers, or by being subject to a trade waste agreement.
The Council wanted effective controls in place as they determined that all discharges could have some effect on wastewater pipes, the environment and public health. The bylaw seeks to reduce these effects by requiring all businesses that discharge waste to meet minimum discharge standards.
Submissions made on behalf of the Association raised concerns that if all businesses were subject to the bylaw, then the rules relating to low risk dischargers needed to be very clear to avoid these kinds of businesses having to meet higher restrictive standards.
Following feedback, the Council has recommended that the new Bylaw be adopted, but with some minor changes to address these concerns.
In particular, the Bylaw will clarify that unavoidable discharge of rainwater into trade waste systems from low risk businesses does not require a trade waste agreement. New definitions have been added for clarification and completeness. Additional related information will be included in the Bylaw to better inform low risk business dischargers. Further, the grounds for varying a trade waste agreement have been clarified.
Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw –The new Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw seeks to manage and minimise waste, protect the public from health and safety risks and nuisance and to manage the use of council-controlled public places.
Of particular concern to businesses was the regulation of kerbside collection bins in retail and high density town centre areas. Discussions are planned between Council and business associations to identify the reasons for the problem and to work towards a solution. It was also suggested that an ‘Explanation’ be included in the Bylaw setting out in plain English the rules regarding the storage of kerbside collection bins.
Ongoing issues were raised about the ‘zero waste event’ obligations in waste management and minimisation plans and the consequent high operational costs for small scale community events. Again, discussions are planned to work towards a solution.
The waste management and minimisation plans for residential and mixed-use multi-unit developments were also raised as a concern. Of importance has been recognition that these plans be drafted to cover the needs of businesses in mixed-use multi-unit developments as well as other businesses adjacent to these developments.
Finally, as Auckland Council looks to develop future strategies or bylaws, the Association will ensure the interests of its members are made clear to the Council through submissions.
Article by Dr Grant Hewison, specialising in local government consultancy and legal services.