Marty Sharpe The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's role as advocate on resource consent applications with territorial local authorities has been put under the spotlight by two of its own councillors.
After receiving a report by council staff on the council's advocacy activities with Hastings, Wairoa, Central Hawke's Bay District and Napier City councils, Cr Alan Dick said at a meeting on Tuesday that he was worried by council environmental manager Murray Buchanan's statement that the territorial authorities were not as diligent at notifying the regional council of resource consent applications as they should be.
"That should be addressed. One of the major purposes of regional council, and its most significant justification, is the separation of roles in term of environmental management," Cr Dick said.
"If things are slipping through the cracks and we are not able to exert our oversight role, then we're not doing what we should do."
In the last year the council made 27 submissions on notified applications, had responded to 36 requests for comments, made one submission on a designation (for Mangaroa Prison), had taken part in two environment court appeals and made 10 submissions to district plans or plan changes.
Cr Dick said he would like to see the council become involved with resource consent applications at an early stage, rather than comment or challenge them later. An example, he said, was the recent successful Environment Court appeal by AFFCO against Napier City Council's granting of a resource consent for a retail centre in an industrial zone at Pandora.
The regional council only provided comment to Napier City Council when the resource consent application was lodged.
Cr Dick felt the council should have made a formal submission on the application.
Had the council been involved earlier, he said, "a lot of people might have saved a lot of money".
Cr Neil Kirton agreed, describing his own council's relationships with territorial authorities as "laid-back" and "laissez-faire".
Cr Kirton said Hawke's Bay was on the verge of significant development and it was "imperative we send a clear signal to these councils".
General manager Andrew Caseley objected to Mr Kirton's comments, but agreed the regional council could be more proactive. He said he and Mr Buchanan believed in hindsight that the council should have made a submission on the Pandora application in the first instance.
Mr Caseley said it was not always down to council staff to advocate on some issues and it was up to the councillors to make their intentions clear in the regional resource management plan.
He said this could be addressed at a planned session early next year.
Cr Kirton said he disagreed with Mr Caseley suggesting "the council had been hog-tied by documents and statements etc", and said the council had not made the most of chances to become involved in some resource consent applications.
He said there were subdivision developments underway that the council had "not nearly enough oversight of".