When will we see some action?

Helicopter consent issues were supposed to have been addressed by Auckland Council in 2019, back when only twenty helipads had been consented on Waiheke. Here’s how it was reported in the NZ Herald.

“[Planning Committee Chairman Chris] Darby said a practice note/interpretation guidance to consent planners was now being developed and will be in place “very quickly”. He believed the rules…require a plan change in future to “bolt down the specific provisions and take out the wriggle room”.

Here’s Council’s Planning Manager Phill Reed’s memo of July 2019. It put three options to Council’s Planning Committee (see p5):

Option 1. Observation: “staff would periodically check in with the consents department for any resource consents for helicopter flights and helipads and assess these for consistency”

Option 2. A practice note and interpretation guidance: “staff would proactively prepare a practice note and/or interpretation guidance, to clarify the policy intent of helicopter landing and take-off as contained in the Auckland Unitary Plan and Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan. This would also address conditioning of consents and best use of NZS 6087:1994 and the Fly Neighbourly Guide. This would be circulated among consent planners and drafted for external release. Also, a monitoring plan would be prepared to help assess the impact of these existing provisions and whether these are fit for purpose.”

Option 3. A plan change: “staff would add…specific rules within activity tables and specific objectives and policies within the residential zones related to helicopters”.

The second option was the recommended one. Council’s Planning Committee then received that memo as an appendix to the 6 August 2019 meeting minutes, but there was no presentation, no debate, no vote, and seemingly no follow-up.

Where is the practice note that was to follow “very quickly”?

Where is the monitoring plan?

What, if any, monitoring has been done?

In the meantime, we now have more than twice as many helipads on Waiheke and the numbers could double again, at the current rate, before Council does anything.

All eyes are on Council’s Planning Committee meeting on 31 March in just 10 days time …