QLDC’s sneak preview on consents

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It’s one rule for Queenstown Lakes District Council on consents – and another for everyone else.

Mountain Scene this week reveals that QLDC appears to have a cosy deal with its own regulatory quango, Lakes Environmental.

Any time QLDC applies for a consent, LE has to let its council masters see a draft determination before the quango finalises the matter. By contrast, LE usually doesn’t release draft decisions to other parties.

QLDC routinely applies for consents for infrastructure as well as special projects – independent commissioners make the final decision but LE planners make recommendations.

The council’s favoured-nation treatment is revealed in a “draft communication protocol” between QLDC and LE – released to Mountain Scene six months after first being sought under the Official Information Act.

“Where council is an applicant in a process managed by LE … a draft of the proposed report/decision is made available to council with a reasonable time allowed in which comments can be made by council before the report/decision is finalised.”

The policy is part of the “no surprises” provision in LE’s contract with QLDC but it raised the eyebrows of two councillors contacted this week.

“I’m surprised by that,” says cr John Mann. “I’m not comfortable that we would be treated any differently from any other applicant.”

Cr Vanessa van Uden: “If everybody else doesn’t get that privilege, then neither should council. If it’s good for one, it’s good for all – nobody should be getting special treatment.”

Prominent local developer David Broomfield also agrees: “The rules should be the same for everybody – either [release drafts] for all or don’t do it.”