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PhilEvans

Waipa District Council Beekeeping rules

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30 minutes ago, WaipaDC said:

Good afternoon.  These posts have been brought to the attention of Waipa District Council.  While we support debate and diversity of opinion, we are concerned about posts relating to staff professionalism and integrity.  We have had extensive discussions with Mr. Evans  on this matter, and we are working directly and amicably with the current consent applicant. 

 

We wish to advise that some of the information in posts in this thread are misleading and we are concerned about the integrity and professionalism of staff being called into question, which raises potential grounds for defamation.  We ask that posts remain focussed on the issue, not the people.

 

For clarification:

1. The current rule in the District Plan is on Waipa DCs list of rules for possible review.  There is a strict legal process that we must follow for any plan changes, which is open to legal challenge.  We also advise that the Environment Court has clearly established that petitions and lobbying carries little or no statutory weight in influencing such decisions, which must be based on evidence and merits.   The beehive rule is currently one of a number of possible changes to the District Plan.  We welcome reasoned, rational and evidence-based information from experts in the industry to better inform our planning process.  In the meantime, we are obligated to work within the current rule.

 

2. Enforcement and monitoring is based on priority of issue and their effects, and complaints. As such residential beehives are a low priority for our monitoring and enforcement, in respect of impact and effects. We don't keep and are not required to keep records of permitted beehives, and don't have the resources to pro-actively hunt out residential beehives that may not be permitted, so we don't keep records of un-consented beehives. If we do receive complaints, we are obligated under our statutory functions to investigate and follow up.  

 

3. We are obligated to follow the resource consent process, and our fees and charges policy applies for all applicants.  In this case, on the merits of the current application, we have initiated a fixed fee approach.  This fees remission was initiated by Council staff (not at the request of any party), in response to the current resource consent application.  We prefer to view this as an example of positive and proactive response around customer service, rather than a back-down, as we have applied our remission policy, rather than impose the full actual fees, which we are entitled to charge.  For further information, see Council's website, search for "fees and charges".

 

  

  

Thankyou for your reply .Good to have you along .

I’ve always found the WDC very good to deal with with the occasional questions I ask of them . 
 

For what it’s worth , I’m pleased you are reviewing your beehive policy , particularly in light that it’s not actually enforced . 
 

It is important to know where beehives are and moving forward , perhaps some communication with The Management Agency would be a good idea . That way, any bee complaints made to the WDC could be forwarded to The Management Agency to be dealt with by them . 
 

Thos would save on double handling , double fees, and the right department would be hearing about it . 
 

Unregistered hives are more of a problem than having to apply for a consent to keep bees 

 

That’s how I see it anyway . 

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6 hours ago, WaipaDC said:

3. We are obligated to follow the resource consent process, and our fees and charges policy applies for all applicants.  In this case, on the merits of the current application, we have initiated a fixed fee approach.  This fees remission was initiated by Council staff (not at the request of any party), in response to the current resource consent application.  We prefer to view this as an example of positive and proactive response around customer service, rather than a back-down, as we have applied our remission policy, rather than impose the full actual fees, which we are entitled to charge.  For further information, see Council's website, search for "fees and charges".

 

It is great the you have joined this debate. Nothing I have said is out of order, or defamatory, but I can understand why WDC is defensive. Hopefully this discussion will highlight how silly the current rules actually are. And yes, I fully acknowledge that they exist. What I don't understand is the brick wall that exists at WDC. It makes no sense at all, where rules have been introduced that have never been fit for purpose, must be adhered to absolutely. WDC have refused to put a hold on existing and future applications until the rules review process has run its course, which includes not going further than the current list. I do not believe that Councils, in issues like this, need to be so heavy handed. That is not being civic minded at all. It simply raises hackles and makes Councils look bullish.

We requested that a reasonable fee be charged, and not the outrageous $2100 deposit. You state that the change you made was not at the request of any party... Sorry, but I dispute that, as both myself and the applicant both requested this fee remission. It is also very unfortunate that the fee reduction occurred just after the applicant filed his application on Tuesday, paying the full $2100. Will he get a refund of $1536? It would be a great gesture of the Council to organise and post a cheque back to the applicant without being asked. It is also not really "actual costs". It certainly does not take 3 hours to read through the application, see the signed neighbours consents, look the site up on google maps, and issue the consent. An hour at the most... If you are forced to go through a much more complicated process, then you would surely welcome the rules being removed from the DP as soon as possible, and allowing hobbyists beekeepers to have their hives - as happens in 64 other NZ Councils.

 

I apologise if I come across as angry, but that is because I am. Brick walls do that to people.

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8 hours ago, WaipaDC said:

Good afternoon.  These posts have been brought to the attention of Waipa District Council.  While we support debate and diversity of opinion, we are concerned about posts relating to staff professionalism and integrity. 

 

you indicate this is tagged as required for review, when will this occur?

what about staff competence? (which is notably separate from professionalism or integrity)

good to see that you're reading this

interesting position on compliance and enforcement, sounds like you've got regulatory issues, suggest reading the martinjenkins report on nzta and looking in the mirror. Hang on, are you choosing to regulate only where you see fit rather than per the law? glad you can't plead ignorance now that you've posted here, and are obviously subject to information requests under LGOIMA and will have nothing to hide or redact...

 

given your statement above, are you suggesting that there is no risk in having hives under areas in your jurisdiction, and that you won't investigate or follow up, unless a neighbour complains? yes/no please.

Edited by tommy dave
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UPDATE

Today I have emailed all 9 Te Awamutu and Cambridge Councillors, and the Waipa Mayor, with a request for them to review the beekeeping rules when they come up early next year. Just letting them know the basic issues, and that the rules are going to be presented to them for prioritisation early next year.

 

Here is the web page listing the Cambridge and TA Councillors. If you know any of them, please talk to them about this issue, and encourage them to support a review of the rules, and allow beehives legally back into those towns. It is Councillors that can change the rules, and it is Staff that implement them. Nothing will happen without Councillors support.
https://www.waipadc.govt.nz/our-council/our-team/mayor-and-councillors

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Suggest you also co-opt Treecrops and local gardening club/group - gardeners participated in the submissions to the Auckland not so Super City when they were about to bring in loony regulations and fees  - over 300 fronted up including the beeks, and it is important to realise the family fruit trees and some vegetable crops will fail unless there is a reasonable number of hives in an urban setting.

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Either a local bylaw is just and fit for purpose or it is not. If there is little or no enforcement and that appears to be the case then it must be either unjust or unfit for purpose and possibly both. Bees are essential but not everybody wants them next door to their fence so you have to have some form of control. At the moment you have expensive consents and rules but no control.

If I was writing the rules then anyone would have the right to keep two hives on their property providing they were as far away from the neighbours as physically possible.Any complaints should first lead to the beekeeper putting in risk reduction devices such as hedges and screening but if a neighbour is adamant then the hive should be removed.

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13 minutes ago, john berry said:

If I was writing the rules then anyone would have the right to keep two hives on their property providing they were as far away from the neighbours as physically possible.Any complaints should first lead to the beekeeper putting in risk reduction devices such as hedges and screening but if a neighbour is adamant then the hive should be removed.

That is exactly what happens in Hamilton, and I am sure most other cities and towns. Given there were 5 complaints in Hamilton to the Council in the last 12 months, and all were resolved with communication amongst the neighbours. Resolutions were either education, moving hives or reducing numbers. There has not been more than 5 complaints each year over the last 6 years at least, and there are currently 1600 inside the city boundary. I do not believe there are many complaints, and even the Staff Report in 2012 did not mention numbers, only "a number of complaints".

 

On your point of distance from boundary, I have my hives about 1 meter from a 1.8m fence. The bees fly up and over the fence and the neighbour on that side only noticed bees when I was inspecting. He often leans over the fence watching while I am in the hives.
The front and to the left of the hives is a long drive, and the bees always stay low until the have to go up and they stay up. In my experience from watching bees, the closer they are to a 6 foot high fence, the better. If the adjoining fence is 1.2m high and the hives are 10m away, the bees stay low, and are therefore in the neighbour head/body space as they cross. Simply putting the fence up to 1.8 solves the problem, meaning the hives can be up against the 1.8m fence with no issues to neighbours. And I have 13 immediate neighbours and currently 6 hives. Some of them don't even know they are there, and all fences apart from down the drive are 1.8m. Distance from boundary is not the issue, fence height is.

25 minutes ago, john berry said:

Either a local bylaw is just and fit for purpose or it is not. If there is little or no enforcement and that appears to be the case then it must be either unjust or unfit for purpose and possibly both.

The current application only came about because the person who bought the adjoining property saw the hives and contacted the council. He did that before buying, and it was at that point the Council contacted the beekeeper and required the consent application. The new neighbour did not make a complaint, and Council staff have confirmed that. They are enforcing the rules only now they know the hives are there, and they have been there for 2 years with none of the neighbours complaining. Even the neighbour who sold was allergic to bees but had no issue, and used to sit under the porch within about 5 meters of the hives over a 1.2m fence. No issue ever, and even though this has been communicated to the council staff, they seem to be forced to act on enforcement. Council staff with a better understanding of bees would probably have granted a hold to all applications as was requested early on, but looking thorough the staff report from 2012, it seems enforcement and potential problems are the drivers, rather than a sensible approach and hold all applications until the rules can be reviewed.

 

I think Council staff have a much better appreciation of the current rules, and know they are wrong, and I really hope they will encourage Councillors to review and change them. Now they are aware of this discussion, and part of it, the rule change is far more likely. Should they choose not to encourage change, then it can be taken much further and involve the media, although that may be useful to get the wider community involved...

Anyway, it is now up to Staff to put the option to Councillors to see if they will agree to the review process. The next step for beekeepers is to contact Councillors in Te Awamutu and Cambridge to get on board...

3 hours ago, Sailabee said:

Suggest you also co-opt Treecrops and local gardening club/group - gardeners participated in the submissions to the Auckland not so Super City when they were about to bring in loony regulations and fees  - over 300 fronted up including the beeks, and it is important to realise the family fruit trees and some vegetable crops will fail unless there is a reasonable number of hives in an urban setting.

The submission process would happen during the review process. First step is to encourage Councillors to do the review... It will be put to them early 2020.

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On 14/11/2019 at 2:05 PM, WaipaDC said:

We also advise that the Environment Court has clearly established that petitions and lobbying carries little or no statutory weight in influencing such decisions, which must be based on evidence and merits. 

 

I have been reading back through these posts, and would like to mention to @WaipaDC that "evidence and merits" were ignored by the Staff Report writer and the committee compiling the current rules, back in 2014. 7 of the 9 submissions back then all contained evidence and merits of beekeeping, but were ignored. That is where my previous comment about 'ignorance' stemmed from. Those staff members and the Councillors at the time 'ignored' evidence and merits from experts. That in itself, given the Council is now aware of the reality of beekeeping, should be enough to generate a confirmed review of the rules. Not having the flexibility to automatically review or change rules created that are not based on "evidence and merits" when that is their own criteria, should not be acceptable to any ratepayer. 

And while lobbying may not have any statutory weight, without it, nothing would ever happen. And given the lobbying will present the "evidence and merits" of beekeeping, I am certain Council staff will be listening very closely to what is presented by beekeeping experts, as Council staff are not the experts on this issue.

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Tony Quickfall has responded to an email I sent to the WDC CEO, and all TA and Cambridge Councillors, advising them of the situation, and asking them to progress the change plan. See attached document.

There is one point of contention which I will always dispute and that is they insist the process in 2012/2014 used, and I quote, "and apply an evidence-based approach, including from those both supporting and opposing policy."
It is very clear that back then, evidence supporting factual details were ignored (7 of the 9 submissions), the Staff report also ignored factual information, and while the 2 opposing submissions were not founded on actual experience by the submitters, the resulting rules favoured them.

So while it may, and probably will, irk Tony Quickfall, the current rules were, and are, not written using an evidence based approach. They apparently have beekeepers in their planning staff, who must surely be acting at work, on this matter, in a way that is different to the reality of keeping bees.

 

Thankfully the Council meeting where the various issues will be put to Councillors is public, so any beekeeper and interested party can attend. I will definately be there, making sure the correct information is put to Councillors, who have already been advised the change process is coming.

Beekeeping rules in the Waipa District Plan.pdf

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24 minutes ago, PhilEvans said:

Tony Quickfall has responded to an email I sent to the WDC CEO, and all TA and Cambridge Councillors, advising them of the situation, and asking them to progress the change plan. See attached document.

There is one point of contention which I will always dispute and that is they insist the process in 2012/2014 used, and I quote, "and apply an evidence-based approach, including from those both supporting and opposing policy."
It is very clear that back then, evidence supporting factual details were ignored (7 of the 9 submissions), the Staff report also ignored factual information, and while the 2 opposing submissions were not founded on actual experience by the submitters, the resulting rules favoured them.

So while it may, and probably will, irk Tony Quickfall, the current rules were, and are, not written using an evidence based approach. They apparently have beekeepers in their planning staff, who must surely be acting at work, on this matter, in a way that is different to the reality of keeping bees.

 

Thankfully the Council meeting where the various issues will be put to Councillors is public, so any beekeeper and interested party can attend. I will definately be there, making sure the correct information is put to Councillors, who have already been advised the change process is coming.

Beekeeping rules in the Waipa District Plan.pdf 237.09 kB · 2 downloads

It reads like they are trying to fob you off .

 

And I quote ‘ change is neither fast nor cheap ‘ and ‘we are fortunate to draw on in-house staff ‘.

 

A positive reply would have read something like this .....

 

 

‘Thank you for bringing this out dated and inappropriate policy to our attention . From time to time , we rely on members of the public to remind us that our rules need continually updating to remain current .

We would welcome your input at out meeting where we will endeavour to be all inclusive of your views ‘
 

 

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4 minutes ago, M4tt said:

It reads like they are trying to fob you off .

 

And I quote ‘ change is neither fast nor cheap ‘ and ‘we are fortunate to draw on in-house staff ‘.

 

A positive reply would have read something like this .....

 

 

‘Thank you for bringing this out dated and inappropriate policy to our attention . From time to time , we rely on members of the public to remind us that our rules need continually updating to remain current .

We would welcome your input at out meeting where we will endeavour to be all inclusive of your views ‘
 

 

I agree 100% and I have just emailed Tony and said basically that. Good that there are beekeepers in the planning department. They must find it hard to administer policy that is so blatently wrong.

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25 minutes ago, PhilEvans said:

Good that there are beekeepers in the planning department. They must find it hard to administer policy that is so blatently wrong.

you're assuming that they are competent, which is a big assumption. Wonder whether they should more likely be excluded due to conflict of interest, could well be people who want a barrier to entry to beekeeping in their area... - wonder what their fee was for consent? my guess - $0

 

it's almost like saying something like "glad karin from api-nz is involved" when it comes to something beekeeping related

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1 hour ago, tommy dave said:

you're assuming that they are competent, which is a big assumption. Wonder whether they should more likely be excluded due to conflict of interest, could well be people who want a barrier to entry to beekeeping in their area... - wonder what their fee was for consent? my guess - $0

 

it's almost like saying something like "glad karin from api-nz is involved" when it comes to something beekeeping related

Time will tell if their staff are competent. 

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Do as we did in Auckland, get those with backyard orchards as well as beekeepers to front up. We got enough to force the council to hold several sessions to hear all those who had put in submissions, and the elected councillors attended and we were sitting at tables - about 8 people/councillor or senior planner, and it worked, and they dropped the fees they had proposed.

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7 hours ago, Sailabee said:

Do as we did in Auckland, get those with backyard orchards as well as beekeepers to front up. We got enough to force the council to hold several sessions to hear all those who had put in submissions, and the elected councillors attended and we were sitting at tables - about 8 people/councillor or senior planner, and it worked, and they dropped the fees they had proposed.

The best thing everyone can do now is to write to the 9 Cambridge and Te Awamutu Councillors and request they vote to put the rules up for review, when the list of items comes up "early in 2020". 
It is Councillors who will "prioritise the rule changes on the list", but we don't know what the other items are. We need to ensure Councillors are fully aware that the current rules are not fit for purpose, severely restrict beehives being sited in residential areas, the consent application is ridiculously expensive, and the consultation process completely ignored expert recommendations in 2012/14. The rules don't take into account the reality of bee activity.

 

The Councillors email addresses can be found on this link.

https://www.waipadc.govt.nz/our-council/our-team/mayor-and-councillors

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Phil, Maybe you should have a talk to Jane Lorimer I think Jane did a submission last reveiw

 

 

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13 hours ago, olbe said:

Phil, Maybe you should have a talk to Jane Lorimer I think Jane did a submission last reveiw

 

 

I have just re-read Jane's submission, and it perfectly represents how the previous Council totally ignored the expert advice of a major beekeeping organisation at the time. Janes very clear recommendations clearly show the total incompetence of Council Staff and whomever decided on the current rules, back in 2012/14.
The boundary and dwelling distances currently set are just plain nonsense, and Jane clearly states the reality. She describes a very workable complaints plan.
That is my main contention with the current council, and the reason for determining the rules are not fit for purpose. Tony Quickfall  @WaipaDC is adamant that an "evidence based approach" was taken. It clearly was not and in this regard, WaipaDC should be fast tracking the process of review. They stuffed up, and they should be required to fix it. I wonder if legal action could be taken due to them totally ignoring expert advice. Tony has mentioned legal scrutiny in his recent letter to me. At the very least, when "the list" is presented to Councillors early in 2020, he needs to strongly advise that beekeeping rules definitely be included in the issues for review. The evidence is piling up and the Council now have no option to review. To not do so would prove further incompetence of the current Council.

It would be great if Jane's submission was presented again to this new Council when the time comes.

I can't attach Jane's submission because it is over 4MB, double what can be attached on here

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