The RUB on our SEA prop­er­ties

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

It was a clas­sic quote which opened Satur­day mati­nee jun­gle drama films I was ad­dicted to as a child.

Two planters/big game hunters sip­ping gin and tonic on their ve­randa in the dusk, their topee hel­mets on the floor be­side them, drum rum­bles in the dis­tance. ‘‘The na­tives sound rest­less tonight!’’

Racist ref­er­ences aside, that’s very true. Auck­land city ratepay­ers, both ur­ban­ites and out­liers, are beat­ing drum equiv­a­lents over the Uni­tary Plan, the blue­print for the next 30 years – all 11⁄ me­tres tall and weigh­ing 50kg as it does.

It will es­tab­lish a Ru­ral Ur­ban Boundary, ab­bre­vi­ated – as lo­cal body speak­ers are com­pul­sively bound to do – as the RUB and in­volv­ing re­gion-wide con­trols and plan­ning con­di­tions.

For tens of thou­sands of ratepay­ers, that RUB seems like that old def­i­ni­tion ‘‘rub of the green’’ – un­fore­seen and usu­ally un­for­tu­nate out­comes.

Ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal coun­cil mem­bers are putting what they see as a case for the plan – and for them­selves in the next lo­cal body elec­tions in Oc­to­ber.

Some RUB out­comes are far from un­fore­seen. Like the sug­gested pro­vi­sions for four­storey build­ings in Wark­worth where ur­ban now meets ru­ral with­out jar­ring build­ings more than 10.5 me­tres high. The plan’s sug­gested new height is 16.5 me­tres.

I be­lieve that would trans­form Wark­worth into a dis­tant sub­urb of a far­away, mod­ern city rather than the ap­peal­ing, long-es­tab­lished town­ship it is with a dis­tinc­tive at­mos­phere and its river port his­tory, its pride in be­ing a wartime cen­tre for Amer­i­can troop train­ing for Pa­cific War mis­sions.

In the mail to­day was our link with the RUB. Our home at Leigh is ap­par­ently an SEA in the RUB, as they put it!

Our garden, with one small spread­ing puriri, tree ferns and shrubs fram­ing a seashell pe­tanque court but dom­i­nated by so-called ex­otics (plum tree, roses, hy­drangeas) is a ‘‘ Sig­nif­i­cant Eco­log­i­cal Area’’, ac­cord­ing to a def­i­ni­tion un­der the draft plan in­volv­ing ‘‘unique­ness and dis­tinc­tive­ness sup­port­ing plants or wildlife that are unique to the lo­ca­tion or to Auck­land’’.

How about that! to­tally un­fore­seen.

But with small print: ‘‘Hav­ing a SEA on your prop­erty may af­fect how you use the area. Mi­nor veg­e­ta­tion prun-

And ing and trim­ming, prun­ing of trees within three me­tres of a dwelling . . . eco­log­i­cal restora­tion and emer­gency works to pro­tect peo­ple or prop­erty would all be per­mit­ted.’’

This from the coun­cil which was pow­er­less to stop an overseas de­vel­oper felling an his­toric and gi­ant po­hutukawa in The Drive the same week we got our new and rather ex­cit­ing def­i­ni­tion. How do they find out all this about SEAs?

‘‘ . . . us­ing ex­ist­ing in­for­ma­tion about eco­log­i­cal ar­eas held by the coun­cil, oth­ers were iden­ti­fied from re­cent ae­rial pho­tog­ra­phy and oth­ers were sur­veyed by field ecol­o­gists.’’

Great. Pre­sum­ably the coun­cil fly­over or ground mis­sion picked up the tell­tale spread of weeds and non­indige­nous and ram­pant morn­ing glory, that creeper we are in con­stant and ex­pen­sive bat­tle with just across the fence from our SEA.

The pho­tog­ra­phers and/or sur­vey teams could make it clear to the own­ers of that derelict land that this has got to stop. It breaches the RUB plan. The own­ers of this eye­sore – a so-called pa­per road? Auck­land Coun­cil. The very same!

If a field ecol­o­gist had called on us we could have dis­cussed the plant­ing and the pre­pon­der­ance of non-na­tives in this new def­i­ni­tion of our garden.

I was re­minded vividly of quotes from Rod­ney Fed­er­ated Farm­ers pres­i­dent John Glas­son that SEAs have been ap­pear­ing ‘‘like fleas on a dog’’.

Ta­pora landowner and Landown­ers and Con­trac­tors As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Julie Cot­ton: ‘‘ Landown­ers be­come fright­ened of hav­ing the coun­cil on their prop­erty.

‘‘It takes one grad­u­ate ecol­o­gist to iden­tify a random twig and the next thing you know half your prop­erty is fenced off. This is our liveli­hood.’’

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse, in an opin­ion in lo­cal me­dia headed ‘‘Don’t panic – we are ready to lis­ten’’ says: ‘‘We don’t want to frighten the farm­ers and we cer­tainly don’t want to tell them to fence all their streams in the next year.’’

And she adds: ‘‘There is a risk with her­itage stuff. Peo­ple know we’re mak­ing it harder to de­mol­ish and it’s eas­ier now so we do risk hav­ing a whole lot of de­mo­li­tion per­mits. And peo­ple might also go in and chop a lot of trees down.

‘‘That’s the down­side of be­ing trans­par­ent but I be­lieve it’s bet­ter to be out there rather than shock peo­ple come Septem­ber.’’ Cut­ting down trees? Not in our neck of the woods. Not OK in our new SEA, Penny. No way. In the mail­bag:

From a reg­u­lar writer:

‘‘Peo­ple who care about what they eat and the fu­ture of the world’s bees, birds, but­ter­flies and other life should be con­cerned at Mon­santo’s lat­est tri­umph.

‘‘Their power isn’t lim­ited to the US but to ev­ery coun­try where Mon­santo op­er­ates, and wher­ever there is an Amer­i­can em­bassy push­ing US prod­ucts in­clud­ing Mon­santo’s.

‘‘This lat­est report from the UK Guardian says: Mon­santo and the US farm biotech in­dus­try wield leg­endary power. A re­volv­ing door al­lows cor­po­rate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and other agen­cies; US em­bassies around the world push GM tech­nol­ogy on to dis­sent­ing coun­tries; government sub­si­dies back cor­po­rate re­search; fed­eral reg­u­la­tors do largely as the in­dus­try wants; the com­pa­nies pay mil­lions of dol­lars a year to lobby politi­cians; con­ser­va­tive think­tanks com­bat any po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion; the courts en­force cor­po­rate patents on seeds; and the con­sumer is de­nied la­bels or in­for­ma­tion.

‘‘But even peo­ple used to

let­ter the close­ness of the US ad­min­is­tra­tion and food giants like Mon­santo have been shocked by the lat­est demon­stra­tion of the GM in­dus­try’s po­lit­i­cal mus­cle. Lit­tle-no­ticed in Europe or out­side the US, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama last week signed off what has be­come widely known as ‘the Mon­santo Pro­tec­tion Act’.

‘‘En­vi­ron­ment groups and oth­ers op­posed to GM are deeply con­cerned.

‘‘Peo­ple who won­der what all the fuss about GM foods is about may be in­ter­ested in this ex­cerpt from a com­par­i­son of nu­tri­ents in nat­u­ral corn and GM [ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied] corn.

‘‘GMO corn has 14ppm [parts per mil­lion] of cal­cium and non GMO corn has 6130ppm [parts per mil­lion] – 437 times more.

‘‘GMO corn has 2ppm of mag­ne­sium and non GMO corn has 113ppm – 56 times more.

‘‘GMO corn has 2ppm of man­ganese and Non GMO corn has 14ppm – seven times more.

‘‘I don’t know what’s scarier here ... the poor nutri­tion in the GMO corn or the fact that there is only one non-GMO corn seed com­pany in all of Canada – wrote my in­for­mant from Canada, where GM is big.’’

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