Inspiring young New Zealanders with Futureintech

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At the beginning of the 2017 year 4Sight made some resolutions. Thriving into the future is about sharing our knowledge to educate and shape a better future.

Futureintech is an Engineering New Zealand initiative that promotes the wide range of science, technology, and engineering careers to young New Zealanders by bringing people who are already working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based industries into classrooms.

Ambassadors share their work experiences and personal success stories to inspire young New Zealanders to explore these careers.

The goals of Futureintech are to:

  • Increase enrolments for tertiary study of science, technology, and engineering.
  • Raise the profile of careers in science, technology, and engineering.
  • Offer school students hands-on learning experiences to increase their interest.
  • Establish relationships between industry and education communities.

4Sight has been involved with Futureintech for over 10 years and has presented at Careers Expos, school assemblies, School open days, Education conferences and helped with class projects. The programme is funded by Callaghan Innovation.

In recent years, 4Sight’s ambassadors have also facilitated the Hello Café series which aims to support young girls (10-13 year old) to open their minds, create opportunities, and gain confidence to help those around them. Hello Café is based on a series of problem-solving workshops where the girls solve problems, contribute to their communities and find inspiration for our future.

4Sight is thrilled to share our knowledge in educating and shaping the future by providing on the ground ambassadors as well as working with Futureintech and Engineering New Zealand on the programmes strategic direction.

 

Picture perfect native bee on a native flower

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Tony was in the Waitakere Ranges, supervising vegetation clearance for a track upgrade, when he captured a snap of this cute little fellow, a Native Bee - Leioproctus, atop a native iris flower. The combo was just too stunning not to share. 

Most of the bees in New Zealand are introduced honeybees and bumblebees, brought here to pollinate crops. But amongst the 41 species found here, there are 28 little-known native bees. 

Leioproctus bees are the most commonly seen native bees of 18 species. They look similar to honeybees but are smaller. All are black except for the South Island species Leioproctus fulvescens, which is covered with dense orange-yellow hair.

Our native bees are pollinators, but unlike the long tongued introduced bees which can pollinate all kinds of introduced flowers the short-tongued native bees are generally better at pollinating native flowers.

This native iris flower is a Libertia. There are 3 species of the native Iris to look out for, in the Waitakere Ranges, this is easiest from late spring when they flower. 

Photograph and text by Tony Payne

 

Integrating Multiple Aquatic Values Conference

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Our fourth and final conference of the month was the Integrating Multiple Aquatic Values Conference, which was run in association with the International Society for River Science, Waikato River Authority, IPENZ/Water NZ Rivers Group and the New Zealand Freshwater Science Society.

The conference was hosted by the University of Waikato in Hamilton and was targeted towards professionals in the physical, natural and socio-economic sciences, as well as those who manage and create policy for the use of riverine resources and their aquatic environments.

Attendees had access to speaker presentations, exhibits, networking functions and field trips that showcased New Zealand’s unique river environment

4Sight Director Michael Lindgreen co-authored two papers.

Michael’s first paper was an overview of a framework for integrated stream management. Below is an excerpt from Michael’s presentation abstract:

“Watercourse Assessment Reports (WARs) are documents developed by Auckland Council to guide watercourse and stormwater network management in the context of a holistic strategic approach for managing stormwater effects on streams.

The WARs represent the most recent iteration in a series of program refinements towards developing a management methodology capable of achieving multiple objectives within realistic environmental, economic and social constraints…Michael’s paper explored the WAR approach, and an example of the outputs that can be used by infrastructure providers to deliver prioritised catchment-wide network maintenance.”

Michael left attendees to think about whether this approach to the assessment and management of streams should be adopted at a national level to improve the integrated management of watercourses across Council boundaries and improve the availability of stream data,

You can read the full abstract here (page 128).

The second paper Michael co-authored was about the Lower Waikato flood control infrastructure and drainage services and their effects on fish passage. Below is an excerpt from this abstract:

“The Waikato River and waterways were significantly modified in the 20th century through development of hydropower, installation of flood control infrastructure and land development for agriculture and other uses.

In recent years, the Waikato Regional Council Integrated Catchment Management Directorate (ICM) and partner institutions have instigated a number of initiatives across the region and in the Lower Waikato to address broader environmental objectives while continuing to serve flood and drainage levels of service…This paper summarises the current flood and drainage service and provides an overview of the initiatives to better accommodate environmental objectives into ICM’s asset management.”.

You can read the full abstract here (page 156).

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our whirlwind month of conferences! Thanks to all who have come up to speak with our presenters and given great feedback! If you’ve missed any of our previous conference summaries, you can check them out below:

▪  James, Blackwell, Terre Nicholson and Nigel Mather at WasteMINZ

▪  Emma Comrie-Thomson at the Environmental Compliance Conference

▪  Tony Payne at the NZ Coastal Society Conference

 

NZ Coastal Society Conference

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Week 3 of our jam packed conference schedule has kicked off in Tauranga at the New Zealand Coastal Society conference.

The New Zealand Coastal Society (NZCS) represent a wide range of disciplines, including coastal science, engineering, management and planning.

NZCS are a technical group which are employed in the engineering and environmental consulting sectors of local, regional and central government, as well as in research institutes and the tertiary education sector.

4Sight are very excited that our own Senior Ecology Consultant, Tony Payne, is set to give a talk. Tony’s presentation is titled: “Engaging and enabling a community to restore a prized costal asset.” - a topic that is of great importance to all of us here at 4Sight.

Tony will be drawing upon both his local and international field experience to discuss ways to increase community awareness and support for ecological restoration opportunities within urban environments.

Below is an excerpt from Tony’s presentation abstract:

“Community-based restoration projects are often driven by a few local individuals or a small residents group who are concerned about environmental degradation, and mostly involve small-scale localised efforts.

The small scale of the projects is rarely due to an absence of willingness, but rather a lack of funding, technical resources or ‘know-how’, coordination with wider stakeholders, or understanding of the drivers of degradation. However, with the involvement of local councils and local boards, NGO’s and schools, community-based restoration projects have the potential to enact ecosystem rehabilitation at catchment and landscape scales. “

You can read the full abstract here (skip to page 98).

If you’re at the conference this week make sure you look out for Tony’s presentation and have a chat afterwards.

Read about Tony’s diverse background on our website, or to find out more about Tony and the work he does for 4Sight, check out his vlog here.

Environmental Compliance Conference 2017

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The 2017 Environmental Compliance Conference took place this week, bringing together local government officers to hear the views of experienced peers, exchange ideas, review industry best practice, learn from case studies and network with colleagues.

This was an interactive two-day conference, involving field trips, exhibitions and workshops focusing on practical and tactical solutions to compliance problems and opportunities in New Zealand.

We were very excited to have 4Sight Senior Environmental Management Consultant Emma Comrie-Thomson present at the conference, alongside Senior Associate Vicki Morrison-Shaw and Solicitor Rowan Ashton from Atkins Holm Majurey.

Emma’s presentation was titled: “You reap what you sow - How better conditions of consent can improve compliance outcomes” and was of particular interest to planners and enforcement officers.

An abstract summary of this presentation has been provided below:

“Quality conditions of consent are a fundamental aspect of ensuring good compliance outcomes – both in the sense that consent holders can better understand and therefore implement quality conditions, and because quality conditions are easier to enforce.

With conditions becoming increasingly elaborate and increased use of Augier conditions, it is important to ensure conditions remain clear, practical, and are enforceable.

In addition, the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 has introduced changes to the requirements for conditions of resource consents which come into effect on 18 October 2017.”

The presentation covered:

  • The core requirements for legally valid conditions,
  • The effects of Court decisions and legislative amendments,
  • Augier conditions, what they are, when they are appropriate from compliance and perspective, and when they are not,
  • The relationships between types of conditions and compliance outcomes,
  • Examples of problematic conditions and how these can be amended to support improved compliance outcomes.

Find out more about Emma by checking out her profile on our website here.

WasteMINZ Conference 2017

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As New Zealand’s largest representative body of the water, resource recovery and contaminated land sectors, WasteMINZ acts as an authoritative voice to achieve ongoing and positive development in this industry.  

Every year, WasteMINZ host a conference to explore key themes affecting the New Zealand contaminated land community. This year’s conference will be held in Hamilton and centres around the theme of “Purpose, Progress and Potential”.

As part of the conference, three members of the 4Sight team will be presenting; James Blackwell, Terre Nicholson and Nigel Mather.

James’ presentation, titled “Passive and active soil vapour sampling – a complementary approach”, will discuss the benefits of adopting early passive and active soil vapour sampling techniques to assess sites with suspected contamination by volatile compounds in soil and groundwater. Drawing on his experience in Australia, James will detail a case study where complimentary soil vapour sampling techniques were used.

James is a fairly new addition to the 4Sight family, with over 11 years’ experience in environmental consulting and contaminated land management.

James has particular strengths in petroleum and chlorinated hydrocarbon assessment and subsequent remediation in soil, groundwater and soil vapour; in addition to having a broad understanding of the assessment requirements surrounding the rehabilitation and redevelopment of closed landfills.

We’re excited to have James represent us at this year’s conference and look forward to hearing his presentation. In the meantime, you can read more about James’ experience on our website.

Terre will be presenting information on moving from safety confusion to a safety culture under the new WorkSafe regulations. 

Anytime new regulations are introduced, there is confusion as to what’s required and what the costs will be. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires a risk-based approach and a high degree of worker engagement, which represents a substantial change in implementing health and safety in the workplace.

Terre’s presentation draws on her work experiences which ranges from working as an underground labourer at a uranium mine, a project manager, and a technical resource for the team that developed the first safety case accepted by WorkSafe in New Zealand.  You can read more about that here.

Terre’s WasteMINZ presentation will be discussing some of the elements required to develop a safety culture that saves time and money in the long run.

Nigel is a Senior Land and Water Quality Consultant with 4Sight Consulting and has been an environment and health and safety professional for 15 years.

Nigel will be presenting a case study in association with Rowan Freeman (Environment Canterbury) on managing and disposing of asbestos-contaminated soil in Canterbury.

There are currently limited options for the disposal of asbestos-containing materials in the Canterbury region. This presentation sets out how assessment and disposal of asbestos-contaminated soils are addressed internationally, whether international guidance and practices can be adapted for use in the Canterbury Region (and wider New Zealand), and what the potential risks are with this approach.

For more information on the conference, visit the WasteMINZ website here.

New Zealand’s First Worksafe accepted Safety Case.

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It was 14 December 2015.  I was sitting in my office in Wellington, planning my holiday break (only during tea time, I promise).  We had bought a house and moved in the week before, so I had visions of remodelling and painting, acquiring a couple of sheep and more chickens, and changing some landscaping.  And working, of course.  Feeling grateful that most of my projects had wrapped up early and wondering if I should take some extra time off before the official holiday break.  

The phone rang – a client I’d done some work with previously.  He said, “Are you up for a challenge?”  Little did I know that my “of course!” answer would substantially change my life.  I had done some consequence modelling work with him on the OnGas Bottle Swap Plant, a first of its kind in New Zealand, semi-automated 9kg liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder refurbishing and filling facility. His next question was, “Can you be in Auckland tomorrow?” My answer was “yes” and the 18-month long journey was begun.

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was requesting an evaluation of the suitability of the plant, given that it exceeded storage quantities specified in Schedule 10, Clause 33 of the Hazardous Substances (Dangerous Goods and Scheduled Toxic Substances) Transfer Notice 2004.  Clause 33 states that up to 180 kg of LPG can be stored in a factory or warehouse.  The storage proposed for the plant was for 740 tonnes of LPG storage. Clause 33 does allow for an application for EPA to consider waiving this requirement.  EPA requested that the application be submitted by 05 January 2016.  The 244-page document was submitted to EPA in January.
  
EPA liked the Clause 33 application and the argument that the facility was not a factory or warehouse.  They then requested that the requirements found in Schedule 10, Clause 22 of the Hazardous Substances (Dangerous Goods and Scheduled Toxic Substances) Transfer Notice 2004 be addressed.  So just when I thought it was safe to relax, another application and another tight deadline.  In April 2016, EPA accepted both documents.  

While waiting for EPA acceptance, I was given another challenge – an Emergency Response Plan (ERP).  The Plan was made more complex than most because of the site location adjacent to wetlands and a stream.  This meant that evacuation routes were limited.  The site is relatively large as well, with people at workstations throughout the facility.  Once the draft ERP was done, it was off to New Zealand Fire & Emergency (NZF&E) with representatives from Vector to evaluate the viability of the facility and associated ERP.  NZF&E was concerned that fire-fighting would not be possible, and through negotiation, a no-cost solution was found by storing empty cylinders in specific areas within the storage yard.  However, they requested development of a storage plan and a report providing consequence modelling and empirical data to demonstrate that the plan would work.  Approval in principle was received in April 2016 with final approval received in July 2017.  As part of ERP development, we came up with a system for presenting immediate response actions to a wide variety of situations.  The system aligns with the OnGas levels of crisis and is a one-page guide to be used until emergency services arrive.

OnGas then requested that we assist with a new Permit to Work (PTW) system.  The revised PTW system included the development of new forms, procedures, work practices.  4Sight also developed a PTW awareness training package which we presented nation-wide.  The work was great - it required me to use my expertise in several areas, including air modelling, consequence modelling, risk assessment calculations, and hazardous substances management under HSNO. 

While this work was ongoing, another group within Vector was developing a Safety Case document.  This was the first Safety Case to be developed for a planned, rather than existing, facility, which presented numerous challenges for the team.  The Safety Case was submitted to WorkSafe for review in December 2016. In late April 2017, WorkSafe provided review comments.  The comments ranged from simple to answer questions to detailed explanations of how Safety Critical Elements were identified.  The deadline was 07 June – two days after Queen’s Birthday.  A large multi-disciplinary Vector/OnGas team was assembled to address the WorkSafe comments.

In May, the team requested that 4Sight coordinate the compilation of information and provide technical input into the revised Safety Case. After several very long work weeks, the team met the deadline and the Safety Case was resubmitted to WorkSafe.  To say it was an intense time is an understatement.

Once the Safety Case was completed, the ERP required an update.  So, the long hours continued for a bit longer.  When everything was done, I took a month off to finally remodel our house.  Yesterday, the last of the kitchen remodel was finished.  And more importantly, OnGas received a letter from WorkSafe approving the Safety Case – the first one in New Zealand.  

We at 4Sight are incredibly proud of the work we did with the OnGas team and want to congratulate the OnGas team for getting this important milestone across the line!

The value of marine reserves

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New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to embrace fully protected ‘no-take’ marine reserves. Established in 1977 the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Goat Island) Marine Reserve is our first, and probably most iconic. Today there are 44 fully protected marine reserves scattered around the mainland and our offshore islands. These predominantly cosy up to the coastline, providing protection for nearshore or shallow water environments. 

Fully protected marine reserves offer respite for marine organisms and environments against the impacts of fishing, both commercial and recreational. By removing these pressures, the populations of targeted species are given a chance to recover. Over time the ecosystems within marine reserves should theoretically revert back to a more ‘normal’ state - ones that would have existed prior to the intensification of fishing.

Having spent three years studying at the Leigh Marine Laboratory (on the doorstep of the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve) I have seen first-hand the value of marine reserves.

From the conservation of important species and ecosystems through to the economic gains from eco-tourism the benefits are multi-spectral. They also provide important tools for helping us understand marine ecosystems and processes and the impacts that humans are having on our natural environment.

The benefits can also extend well beyond the boundaries of protection as demonstrated in a recent study by Marine Scientists at the University of Auckland. Within a 400 km2 area around the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve, 10% of all juvenile snapper caught were the offspring of snapper persisting within the marine reserve boundaries. Given the marine reserve only accounts for 1.3% of the 400 km2 study area, snapper within the marine reserve are having a large effect on the wider snapper population.  

For more information on this study watch the video here.

Delivering the best outcomes for land, people and water

Delivering the best outcomes for land people and water demands both a depth and breadth of skills and a passion for getting the balance right. That's why we don't just look for talented people, we seek out experts who share our vision that the best approach is one that meets the needs of land, water and people.

This month we feature our Senior Ecology Consultant, Tony Payne talking about the role of an Ecology consultant and the varied projects he has on his plate.

If you're passionate about your career and want to make a real difference, take a peek at our careers page for all our latest roles on offer. Right now we are looking for an ecologist with at least 10 years’ experience, who has had a demonstrated focus on coastal and marine related projects.

Is this you? Apply now. 

 

Major Hazard Facility Support

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With the April 2018 deadline looming, 4Sight is helping our Major Hazard Facility (MHF) clients with moving toward compliance.  We have helped with emergency response planning, safety case documentation, major accident prevention policy (MAPP) documentation, qualitative and quantitative risk assessment, consequence modelling, and general health and safety compliance.

We use BREEZE and ALOHA to model consequences of MHF events, such as explosions and chemical releases.  We also use air and hydrological modelling programmes to map chemical plume dispersion.  We also facilitate HAZOP, Hazard ID, and qualitative risk assessment workshops, assist with worker and public engagement and provide support for meeting with regulatory and emergency response agencies.

For one MHF, we provided consequence modelling, which helped form the basis for the emergency plan we developed for the facility.  The plan was presented to the New Zealand Fire Service who stated that it was the most comprehensive and one of the best emergency response plans they had ever reviewed.  We also assisted the client with validating a no-cost solution to separation distances for hazardous substances, assisted with the Safety Case, developed plans and procedures, and assisted with consent compliance.  We also developed a Permit to Work system and provided training to workers and contractors. In addition, we worked with the client to develop reports provided to EPA and WorkSafe demonstrating that the facility could be operated safely.  

At another MHF, we have conducted bow tie and layers of protection analysis evaluations to identify the highest consequence potential outcomes and controls required to prevent or mitigate incidents.  We also conducted consequence modelling and assisted with their emergency response plan and a WorkSafe audit.

For a lower tier MHF, we provided consequence modelling and teamed with Olsson Fire & Risk to develop a fire study to demonstrate that the fire systems were adequate to meet regulatory criteria.

For more information about 4Sight's MHF support services, get in touch with Terre Nicholson: terren@4sight.co.nz

NES for the Forestry Industry

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4Sight is pleased to see the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry being released by the Government last week. Since late 2015, 4Sight has been working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment to help refine the regulations and respond to issues raised in public consultation.

 

The regulations are by far the most comprehensive national environmental standards developed to date and are a result of a significant amount of work. Not only are the regulations expected to deliver certainty and efficiency benefits for the forestry sector, councils and other stakeholders, they are also expected to deliver improved environmental outcomes.

 

The regulations come into effect May 2018, and 4Sight is now assisting the Ministry for Primary Industries with the implementation phase to deliver guidance and training to councils, foresters and key stakeholders to ensure an effective rollout.

Contact us if you'd like to find out more about the work we have done

Our latest video blog is all about our people

Here’s a glimpse into what our Managing Director, Aaron Andrew, does and what he looks for in potential team members.

If you're passionate about your career and want to make a real difference, take a peek at our careers page for all our latest roles on offer. We are currently on the lookout for talented Ecologists, Planners and Administration support.

4Sight Resolutions

A resolution is only truly sustainable if it serves a bigger picture.

At the beginning of 2017, we decided it was time for the 4Sight team to make some resolutions. Sustainability is a journey, and for us it’s about always trying to find new ways to actually walk the talk, together as a team. So, we made resolutions around four key areas we are passionate about - land, people, water and preserving our world for future generations.  Now we are creating actions to demonstrate how we are living our values. Follow us on our journey as we live up to our promises #4sightresolutions 

LAND
This is our land. We preserve this environment for the next generation to live, work and thrive.

PEOPLE
We believe in developing our people and our culture to grow together.

WATER
Our waters represent constant change. Our commitment is to ensure the quality of this precious resource.

THRIVING INTO THE FUTURE
Today we share our knowledge to educate and shape the future. 

Tough Guy and Gal Challenge


“What the fluoro pink speedo’s have I got myself into?” I thought as a splatter of muddy puddle water splashed up my back and a guy wearing only, and yes by only I mean only, fluoro pink speedos walked past me in the middle of a farm in remote west-Auckland on a drizzly wet grey day. Now you’re thinking what the heck has she gotten herself into?!

Well, I can tell you the splatter of mud up my back was really the last thing I needed to be worried about! In 30 minutes time, I was gingerly avoiding what I thought were the muddiest parts of the 6-km Tough Guy and Gal mud run this year. Within the hour, I’d given up all care for mud at all – laughing hysterically with other team members while submerged in it waist deep. Finally, all decency and care for all mud and water was gone and we hurled ourselves, down a mud slide on our backsides into a stream of freezing water. 

Sitting down later over a pint (or two), the crazy 4Sight team and their even crazier family members shared tales of helping hands, knocked heads, bruised shins, zapping wires, lost shoes, garment choices, winning runners and all the glories of thick, wet, cold mud! There were smiles and laughter a plenty. So team, what’s our next adventure together? 

Blogger - Monique Wheat, Multi-talented 4Sightian

Living Roof Urbanism

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Our Senior Planning, Urban and Landscape Design Consultant Zoë Avery recently presented her research into how we can better integrate living roofs as urbanistic systems into our cities in light of urban population growth.  

The term ‘Living Roof Urbanism’ is a concept developed to assist living roof design that results in maximised benefits. Living roofs, when designed in a holistic manner can produce multi-functional benefits that significantly improve our urban environment. Living roof design currently does not successfully maximise these potential benefits, nor are they acknowledged widely.  Regularly, living roofs are designed for one benefit, for example stormwater attenuation or aesthetics. The resulting effect is a reduction in the perceived benefits and subsequently lower global uptake. 

Zoë explained her research to date of looking into a set of guidelines to achieve holistic living roof development enabling maximum benefits.  The current toolkits, models, policy incentives and case studies compartmentalise the benefits rather than considering living roofs as part of the landscape and another surface that can enhance our environment achieving a multitude of benefits. 

Following on from this 4sight has been working alongside Renee Davies, Dean of Unitec, to develop the Living Roof Guide for Whangarei – being the first living roof guide in New Zealand.

This guide will be launched in a few weeks and aims to showcase the multi-functional benefits and design considerations of these systems.  Living Roof benefits include stormwater attenuation, increased biodiversity, the ability to create more public spaces providing greater connection with nature, extending the roof life, increased marketability and profitability of the buildings to name a few.

We will share the Living Roof Guide in the coming weeks, however for more information on our Urban and Landscape Design service, view our latest projects.

 

Planning for the waves of change

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Planning for me has always been centred around my passion and love for the ocean and the environment. 

I’ve surfed and immersed myself in the sea since the late 1980s and have a deep respect and understanding for the sensitivities of these environments. Choosing a career in environmental planning was a logical career choice.

Over the past 20 years, this career has taken me all around New Zealand and the United Kingdom where I’ve worked to achieve positive environmental outcomes while striving to uphold a high level of professional integrity with the projects I have  been involved with.

It’s this same passion for our environment and desire to achieve balanced results that underpins how 4Sight works and their principles of trust, integrity and respect are key to what attracted me to the company.

The planning profession is in a state of change and recent changes to the Resource Management Act are only just the start of what will be constant shifts in how we work, as central government issues more direction around development outcomes in urban environments and further changes in the freshwater management space.

This is the first time that 4Sight has established a South Island presence and I’m very proud to be charged with taking a lead role in expanding the brand and the high-quality services to our existing clients, as well as exploring opportunities to introduce our services to new clients.

The national economy is still showing positive signs of growth, with new development being advanced across the South Island’s key regions such as Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  Otago, in particular, has shown very positive tourism growth, with Queenstown reflecting high levels of construction and development activity.  The local Dunedin economy is buzzing with a number of heritage renewal/earthquake strengthening projects currently underway in the city and with a number of new projects proposed, which is all very positive.

In the regional space, freshwater (both quality and quantity) and nutrient management will continue to be a central focus across the South Island for irrigation and farming interests as new planning regulations start to take effect.  This will undoubtedly keep us busy.

So here’s to the next chapter in the 4Sight story, which I’m glad to be a part of. 

To find about more on my expertise or to get in touch, view my profile.

 

Nigel Bryce

Dunedin Manager - Principal Planning and Policy Consultant

 

 

A relic of the Jurassic period - Spotlight on the Kahikatea

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Our Ecology Consultant Dr. Arie Spyksma shines the spotlight on New Zealands tallest forest tree this week.

Kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) grows in excess of 60 metres on occasion. Amazingly, these trees are a relic of the Jurassic period, with pollen and leaves being discovered in Jurassic rocks (160 – 180 million years old) where they were likely pollinated by pterosaurs, not birds.

Historically there were widespread kahikatea forests through New Zealand’s low lying areas, with these trees thriving in frequently damp areas such as floodplains and swamps. Unfortunately, the expansion of New Zealand’s agricultural interests and the conversion of many low lying boggy areas into uniform expanses of pasture lead to the demise of much of our kahikatea forest. The best place to still see these forests in their prime today are the extensive freshwater swamp forests in Westland.

These kahikatea made up part of a small remnant grove in South Auckland, near Pukekohe. At the time of taking this photo (March) many of the fleshy seed receptacles had ripened (changing from green to orange/red) and were being engulfed by a litany of tui and kereru, a highly effective dispersal mechanism. 

Arie’s field of expertise is extremely wide. He works largely in ecological impact assessment, which involves environmental monitoring, marine monitoring, fauna survey, report writing, scientific research, field research, conservation and ecological restoration. 

For more information on Arie view his profile here.

 

National Environmental Standard for Telecommunication Facilities 2016

An updated and expanded National Environmental Standard for Telecommunication Facilities (NESTF) was gazetted on the 24 November 2016, and will come into effect on 1 January 2017. 4Sight has been working closely with the Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) and the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) to develop and refine the new regulations. 4Sight's ongoing involvement in this project is based on our proven experience in central government policy development, practical planning experience and knowledge of the telecommunication industry through our resource consent acquisition work for 2degrees across New Zealand. 

The process for developing the 2016 NESTF has taken a number of years, and responds to increasing demands for greater mobile services and technologies and modern forms of telecommunication facilities. The 2016 NESTF will support the development of a wider range of telecommunications infrastructure, particularly Ultra-Fast Broadband, the Rural Broadband Initiative and fourth generation mobile infrastructure, through permitting a wider range of telecommunication facilities in locations inside and outside road reserves. 

A key focus of 4Sight’s role in this project has been to ensure the NESTF achieves its objective of ‘providing greater national consistency for a wider range of telecommunications infrastructure and locations’ while ensure environmental effects are appropriately managed through appropriate conditions and allowing for local control to be retained in areas with particular significance or value. This process has benefited from an exposure draft process which involved working with a Technical Advisory Group comprised of industry and local government representatives to test and refine the regulations. 

The focus of 4Sight is now on developing a comprehensive user guide for the NESTF to help explain the technical regulations in a more concise and understandable manner and to facilitate the efficient and effective roll out of the NESTF early next year.

Here is the press release for more information or you are welcome to get in touch with Jerome Wyeth for more information.

Driftwood

We consent all sorts of interesting things from tree houses to giant inflatable gorillas, but a few eyebrows were raised initially in the Monday team meeting around getting a consent to remove and dispose of drift wood from Gisborne’s main beach. 

It’s a bit easier to see why if you watch this drone footage. You can see the extent of the problem, following the recent floods, and imagine its effect on the seaside town especially leading into summer. All this driftwood damages the dune system and prevents the vegetation establishing which in turn exacerbates coastal erosion. But what do you do with it? Smoke and ash from burning this much driftwood would be a major problem so close to an urban area.

The good news is GDC and the Kopututea Trust working with DOC have identified an area within Kopututea, an area owned by the Trust and shared by the wider community as a public reserve, where the driftwood can be deposited. The intention is that this will then be used as part of an overall restoration project to establish plantings which will enhance the area. However, the proposed works will trigger a range of rules under the Combined Regional and Land Plan, the proposed Freshwater Plan, the Air Quality Plan and Gisborne Coastal Environment Plan. Whilst this may seem inconvenient to some, these rules actually ensure protection of our environment and making sure the public can still use and enjoy this valued coastal environment to its fullest. Also it’s a painless process when you have great planners. We are helping GDC obtain all the necessary approvals to get this done, watch this space. You can also see a coastal walkway we recently consented for them. 

'Sink or Swim' - South Auckland Secondary School Awards for a sustainable future

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Despite the crutches, Alice was thrilled to be a Judge in the inaugural Tiaki - 'Sink Or Swim' Awards, South Auckland Secondary Schools Environmental Competition. ‘Sink or Swim’ (SOS) currently in its first year culminated in an expo and awards ceremony on 2 August at the new Sir Noel Robinson Conference Centre (Vodafone Events Centre). The pilot has been a resounding success, with students from four South Auckland schools partnering with local businesses to conceptualise and develop environmental solutions to solve real world problems. The projects contributed to Tiaki’s vision 'A future where youth protect, enhance and beautify the South Auckland environment through innovative actions that support a sustainable future. The judges included 4Sight’s Alice Andrew, Anne Gibbon from Callaghan Innovation, Michael Grobelny from AUT – Faculty of Design and Creative technologies, and Sir Noel Robinson himself. After some intense presenting from the students and judging the students then took to the new Wero White water park. Alice is looking forward seeing the awards gain momentum and can’t wait to see what amazing entrants there will be next year. 

Congratulations to Manurewa High as overall winners for their invention to produce a cost effective solution for rental or Housing NZ homes where moisture is a problem. Manurewa High worked with Aeroqual to address the health hazards associated with excess moisture in damp, mouldy homes by 3D-printing an extractor fan with a built in timer and humidity sensor.  

Other projects included a 21st century school community garden, from Aorere College and Opus and an Alternative Energy Project from Sancta Maria College, who teamed up with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare to explore alternative ways to produce energy.  Two schools, Manurewa High School and Rongomai Primary School, worked with Aeroqual on a project to measure, map and reduce CO2 levels in the classroom through the use of simple sensors and natural organisms such as plant life. It was impressive to hear the primary school students from Rongomai explain how excess CO2 levels in the classroom contribute to lethargy and lack of concentration.  

Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan - What's coming up

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After 2 ½ years of submissions and hearings, the Independent Hearings Panel will be releasing their recommendations to the Council on 22 July 2016. The Councillors will have until 19 August 2016 to either accept or reject the recommendations of the Panel, and appeals regarding the provisions must be lodged with the Courts by 16 September 2016. 

How much will change?

Like you, we do not know what the Panel’s recommendations will be.  We expect that they will adopt the agreed positions that submitters and the Council have come to, however they are not likely to adopt all of the Council’s submissions. We also understand that the look and feel of the Plan will be different to the current version.

Appeals

Under the specific legislation for the Unitary Plan there is a reduced scope of appeal available.  In general, appeals are only able to be made on points of law (to the High Court) unless the Council does not accept the recommendations of the Panel.

What does this mean for you?

The rules are changing - there are likely to be activities that you can do now that you won’t be able to do without consent.  Equally there could be activities that are more permissive than currently.  We understand that some zoning is also likely to change, this could be upzoning of some residential areas or changes from rural to urban.

There will be uncertainty – it is likely there will be a number of appeals made on the Decisions Version of the PAUP.  It will take the Council some time to identify what appeals affect what parts of the PAUP.

There will be delays – we except that due to the new statutory planning regime the Council processing times will be extended as they work to address applications under the new rules and criteria.  It’s likely there will be higher processing costs due to the need to address both the legacy plans and the new plan.

Consenting Regime – it may be beneficial for your project to lodge prior to the Decisions Version being notified (August), or alternatively it may be beneficial to wait.  We can provide advice on this for you.

When will it all be over?

Only after all appeals have been settled will we have the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) and (apart from the Hauraki Gulf Islands) we can disregard all legacy plans.  However, it could be that aspects of the appeals are settled more quickly than others so some areas of Auckland will only be subject to the new plan.

We’re here to help

4Sight Consulting has a strong relationship with the Council and will be kept informed of how the Council, in particular the resource consents department, will be implementing the Decisions Version of the PAUP.  We can provide advice to you on when to lodge consent, and whether, as a submitter, it is worth lodging an appeal.

For help or advice, speak with one of our planning consultants

 

Sniffing out the skinks! - An initiative for our four-legged employee

In an initiative to develop a flexible, rapid, cost effective and accurate methodology for a native skink presence survey at 4Sight, we’ve turned to our four-legged employees!

It’s well known that dogs have a sense of smell far superior to our own - a human has approximately 5 million scent glands, in comparison to dogs which (depending on breed) can have anywhere from 125 million to 300 million.

The use of canine super-sniffers is not a new concept in the realm of conservation – in fact New Zealand is recognised as one of the pioneering countries in the development of dog training to support species recovery objectives. 4Sight is continually looking to develop practical solutions to help us live, work and thrive in our environment and accordingly, is supporting the training of a native skink detection dog, using one of our most widespread species – copper skink – as a proxy for native skinks. Whilst dogs have been trained to detect the presence of the invasive plague skinks, and others can detect native geckos; this initiative is (as far as we know) the first of its kind in New Zealand. Where human error and seasonal conditions can impact detection accuracy, a well-trained dog can potentially indicate presence of native skinks within minutes – and in a far less invasive manner.

Enter Molly – 4Sight’s resident chocolate labrador. With a drive to please and enthusiasm to boot, she’s got the goods to make a top notch conservation dog. Check in regularly, as we’ll update her progress on this blog, with regular posts by Molly’s handler Rachel throughout the training and assessment process. Watch this space!

Geckos in the spotlight!

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At least 39 species of gecko live in New Zealand, however only 18 of these species have been described. These species show a great variety in size and colour, and range from bright greens and yellows to camouflage greys and browns. New Zealand geckos are also unique in that they give birth to live young rather than lay eggs, something that is only shared with geckos from New Caledonia. 

Geckos are extremely cryptic and difficult to detect, especially on mainland New Zealand. They are also under threat from introduced predators and habitat destruction, which has resulted in low population densities. 

However, there is potential for geckos to be discovered in your backyard. They are attracted to large areas of dense divaricating shrubs such as coprosma species which provide safe cover, but also provides fruit and attract insects for geckos to feed on. They also enjoy kawakawa which provide fruit and flax, while mānuka and rātā offer nectar. 

This is something to consider for any site development project. Our ecology team at 4sight are often seen heading out at night to spotlight for geckos, whose eyes reflect their scanning torches enabling them to assess species presence. This enables our ecologists to monitor gecko populations for an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEEs) and evaluate the impacts and monitoring outcomes as part of mitigation requirements of the Resource Management Act. 

For more information on assessing the ecological impact of your next development, download the guide here.

Photo courtesy of Paul Caiger, who is currently a PhD student at the Leigh Marine Laboratory studying fish ecology. When the weather is too rough to go diving, Paul can be found in the bush searching for reptiles to photograph.

Santa delivered our new video early..

The office is buzzing with excitement today as we showcase our new video to the team. We think it sums up our proposition perfectly, take a look and let us know what you think!

For more information, or to speak with a specialist in your area, visit our contact us page.

Resource Management Act – Evolution or Revolution?

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Sustainable 60 Awards 2014

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Diversity Awards 2014

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