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PhilEvans

Waipa District Council Beekeeping rules

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I have been in discussions with Waipa District Council (WDC) regarding their current District Plan rules for beekeeping, which are extremely restrictive, and are not really based on the realities of keeping hives on residential properties. Some facts as their rules currently stand...
An application for a Land Use Consent requires a deposit of $2100. A refund less actual costs will be processed once a decision is made.

Current rules are that only 2 hives can be kept, and they must be 10 meters from a boundary (was previously 25m), and 25 meters from a dwelling (was previously 50m), making it virtually impossible to legally keep bees in Te Awamutu and Cambridge. They do have limited discretion to reduce these distances, as they are currently "recommended" distances.

These rules were set in 2014, after about 30 submissions from beekeepers and clubs, which were basically ignored. The only change from previous rules was a reduction in distances as above, and mention that bees are beneficial. Waikato Bee Club submitted suggesting the distances were reduced to 2m and 5m. This was ignored. Even submissions from the National Beekeepers Assn and some very experienced beekeepers were ignored.

A Private District Plan Change process requires a ludicrous deposit of $58,450, and takes about 2 years.
A Council review of some District Plan Rules is being planned for early 2020. My communications with WDC in the last few weeks has ensured the Beekeeping rules are included in the list to be 'considered for priority'. 

 

I am sure most beekeepers would agree that the current rules are not based on the reality of bee behaviour, and the Council costs for a consent are prohibitive, even if most will be returned.

 

I have asked the Council if they would be willing to put a significantly reduced set fee a Consent Application in place, and temporarily apply significant discretion to the boundary and dwelling distances, until a Council review of the rules can take place. They have advised this could be early in 2020, when a number of District Plan rules will be looked at.

 

On the possible review, they have advised... "We would expect to have a better understanding early in the new year whether the bee-keeping rules are a priority for review and whether the Council will progress another series of plan changes."

 

The reason for this post, is to try and drum up support and momentum to make this a "priority" and ensure that WDC include reviewing their beekeeping rules in early 2020, and would like comments and suggestions from beekeepers in Te Awamutu and Cambridge, and anyone else around the country, to see if we can get their rules changed. I understand that WDC, Whangarei DC and a Council somewhere around Christchurch are the only 3 Councils out of 67 that have extremely restrictive beekeeping rules. It would be great if the whole beekeeping community could get behind a concerted effort to encourage Waipa and the others to use reality for their rules, instead of fear (which is evident in their decision back in 2014).

 

I have compiled quite a bit of info regarding WDC's rules, and can put that into this discussion to answer questions anyone may have, and I am prepared to front a campaign on behalf of potential beekeepers in TA and Cambridge, if necessary. When the time comes, anyone can put in a submission on the issue. I have asked for a link to the full 2014 submissions from WDC, and will post that link when I have it. The current document I have containing submission summaries and decision explanations is too big to upload here. I will try and extract the relevant 6 pages to post if I can find a way to do that.

 

Please comment with your suggestions, proposals, experience you have had with WDC. I will make a comment with contact details for the relevant Council person, so you can email him to request Beekeeping will be included in the review process early next year. The more people who do this, the more chance the rules can be changed. I will also post on the suggestions and options I have already proposed to WDC.

And just for the record, I have been a beekeeper for just over 2 years, and don't live in the WDC area, but I cannot stand when local or central government rules are clearly detrimental, and not based on reality. I have been discussing this issue with a resident of Te Awamutu, and started my communication with WDC in late 2017, when I was looking at placing one of my hives on a friends property in TA. That didn't happen because of the restrictive rules.

If anyone wants to help the process by requesting Waipa District Council review the rules for beekeeping, you can send an email to
Tony Quickfall at tony.quickfall@waipadc.govt.nz
He is Manager of District Plan and Growth.

 

I have got Beekeeping put on the initial list and early next year the list will be assessed by priority. Any email at this point should be about encouraging the Council to see this as a priority for change. Proposals, submissions etc, are not required at this stage, its just about getting beekeeping rules seen as a priority, and that will only happen if they get enough requests.

 

Just a simple email saying something like, this.

"I understand there may be a review of District Plan rules for keeping bees in residential areas (Te Awamutu and Cambridge) early next year. I support a review, to hopefully bring your Councils rules into line with 64 of the 67 Councils that allow keeping beehives on residential properties with only Animal Nuisance guidelines, and very few restrictions. This is a priority for anyone wanting to keep a few hives on their properties as a hobby, and has been unable to because of the current rules and costs."

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