Gisborne District Council has lifted its game in processing resource consents in a timely way. This is confirmed in national survey of local authorities’ resource consenting practices. Whilst the national average of processing resource consents in the 2010-2011 year within the time limits specified in the Resource management Act is 95 per cent, the corresponding figure for Gisborne is 96 per cent, up from 50 per cent two years earlier.
Council's Group Manager Environment and Policy Hans van Kregten says that the increased figure is pleasing, and acknowledges improvements made in the processes used by Council, as well as the hard work by Council staff. "It also reflects the imposition by central government that councils have to refund part of the consent fees to any applicant whose consent is processed over time. It is also fair to say that the improved time performance reflects a downturn in consents received due to the recent difficult economic conditions. Performance across the country has been lifted."
Hans van Kregten says he is comfortable with Council's performance compared to that of other councils. "Whilst being the best performer in this area may seem advantageous, we need to realise that such a position can only be reached by throwing significant financial resources at this problem. The best performing councils need to be able to always meet the time standards, and that really means that their staff and other resources would be too large for most of the time. For Gisborne that would be very costly. We are now processing 24 out of 25 consents on time. That is excellent service. In the rare situations that we cannot meet the time frames, we will consult with the applicant as soon as possible, and provide up to date information about timing. When we are legally obliged to refund part of the consent fee, we will do so without needing to be prompted by the applicant."
The national Resource Management Act survey aims to help the Minister for the Environment monitor how the Act is being put into practice. It highlights trends and provides information for benchmarking and performance improvement.
The full national survey is now available at www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/annual-survey/2010-2011/index.html