Independent Reports ARE Available
A suggestion has been made by Bill Barclay in his blog that regional councils, and in particular Waikato Regional Council are avoiding, deferring or in other ways “sliding around” the requirement to obtain independently audited reports on compliance, monitoring and enforcement. That’s a serious allegation so I took the trouble to dig out the facts for myself.
It turns out that that an independent report was prepared for the regional sector in 2017/2018 and is publicly available. A 2018/2019 independent report was published in February 2020, and WRC has itself published a summary of the data relating to compliance monitoring and enforcement on its website.
These reports confirm that when compared with other regional councils, WRC is performing pretty well. Here are some of the key metrics from these reports.
The third report has not been progressed – not because of some nefarious motive to hide the data, – but because Dr Brown who prepared the first two reports is no longer available. It was decided that councils will simply compile the survey data this year, and as before, WRC will publish that data on its website. In future it is expected that the services of an independent auditor can be obtained again.
There have been some major prosecutions taken recently against dairy farmers who have been blatantly polluting the environment with dairy effluent. Matamata Piako District Council was recently prosecuted for an egregious situation where they allowed sewage effluent to discharge without taking immediate action to prevent it.
There is always room for improvement. I’m not personally convinced that WRC is active enough in taking sufficient enforcement actions against district councils who routinely breach their resource consents for their three waters infrastructure.
But when WRC has a 100% record for monitoring resource consents where this is required, and a 100% record for incident response – as revealed in an independently audited report, it’s hard to understand the motivation to hide this data?