Photo's courtesy of Kevin Krejci
We went to along to a meeting set up by the Auckland Bee Club on Monday to discuss the $190 (annual) consent fee to keep Bees, proposed within the Auckland Council long-term draft plan. The draft considerations include public consultation and a submission process.
The meeting was chaired by ‘Christopher Dempsey’ who is a Waitemata Local Board member who himself, is a Beekeeper.
It appears, historically, that a ”bylaw” in Rodney is where this proposed annual charge has been derived.
“Harmonisation” of bylaws would be the next step for Auckland Council in the coming year, Christopher confirms that all the legacy Council bylaws will be considered for implementation Auckland Wide.
From our perspective, we see this proposed annual consent fee charge as part of Auckland Council’s desire to start charging all Auckland Beekeepers for keeping Bees (to generate income for little and no return to the Beekeepers)! Oh… and please know that we Beekeepers provide swarm control at no charge to Auckland Council and to previous legacy Councils.
A two-part approach was discussed, Part one to address the draft long-term plan as fact and by way of large quantities of submissions. It was also suggested that all submitters request to speak to their submissions at the ”Hearings” stage of consultation. Part two being where beekeepers need to address any bylaw for keeping bees, where annual charging is considered by Auckland Council.
Part One “Submissions”
It was agreed at the meeting that the best way to approach the submission process would be to take on the draft plan literally at face value. Individual submissions to be made by you (as an affected party) which states that you “strongly disagree” for any fee or bylaw to be charged to anyone who keeps bees. It was suggested that part of the submission is that we bee keepers ask to speak at the hearings and within the submission state that we “…request to speak in support of our/your own submission”. This would mean that the large numbers of submitters would “encourage” Auckland Council to reconsider any charging due to the large number of submitters who do not support this proposed annual consent fee charge.
Part Two “The Bylaws”
We hope that success in removal of the proposed charge in the draft long-term plan will ensure that no “bee keeping” bylaw is supported going forward – your support, we hope – will drive removal of this ’old legacy Rodney bylaw’ and that the bylaw is removed during this process. However …we will keep you posted on when the local bylaws are going to be considered because we need to be vigilant…just like our Bees !
We highly recommend that everyone, gardeners, local community groups, schools, local producers anyone who cares about the world’s health and in particular, the BEE, puts in a submission opposing this fee – to do nothing – will give Auckland Council the mandate to go ahead with the charge.
To make it easier we have created a submission form which has all the information required for your submission, you can choose to speak or not to speak in support of your submission.
Here is a submission form that we have created, just fill it in and post it yourself. Submission Form 2012
Just remember …as the fee stands in Volume Three, Page 147 of the proposal, it will be for all of Auckland. We heard that this was a mistake and only applies to the old Rodney area but that’s not what is fact.
Kiwimana do not support any annual charge for beekeepers in Auckland, North Island, South Island and indeed the world.
More information below… however stay focused on the Facts, Council will respond to easy to read, clear and concise submissions !
Oh… and what does Auckland’s Mayor say?…
Whilst speaking with Leighton Smith on 5 March 2011, link to show here http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/Auckland/player/ondemand/720688055-Auckland-mayor-Len-Brown.
Conversation is around 27:30
Leighton Smith: Q: “Whats the plans for Bees?”
The Mayor – Len Brown : A: “Bees?..ohhh well Leighton I will deal with the dog plan first…”
Leighton Smith: Q: “But Bees are next isn’t it?”
The Mayor – Len Brown: A: “Yeah it is, look … I have them on top of the town hall, and we are actually producing honey from the bee hives in the top. So we are certainly listening also to issues of bee owners, we do not want to discourage bee owners in the city. We are struggling for bee hives and for bee populations.”
Well that does sound hopeful doesn't it?
The Existing Bylaw in more detail:-
Here are some more details about the existing bylaw that currently applies to the Rodney area:-
The Rodney Existing Bylaw 1998 Chapter 7 Keeping of Animals, Poultry and bees.
Section 6.0 States:-
6.0 SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR BEEKEEPING
6.1 No person shall:-
(a) place or establish, or cause or permit the placement of any beehive in a public place without the written consent of the Council or an Authorised Officer; or
(b) site any beehive within the District whether on private or public land, so as to become a nuisance or a threat to public health or safety.
Ok so this the consent fee in action, sounds like it only applies to public land doesn’t it. But I question this in the general section of the act:-
Section 3.1 Part D
No person shall:-
(d) keep any stock on any property in an urban area with an area less than 2000 square metres, without the prior written permission of the Council or authorised officer; or
(e) keep, or allow any animal in a public place in a manner which is or is likely to be a nuisance or a threat to public health or safety; or
Section E is common sense and I agree with that, but what’s up with section D? For those people with less than 0.49 of acre this bylaw as its written would apply to you. Does that mean the council could enforce the consent fee.
How many sections in Auckland are bigger than 0.49 of an acre? I wouldn’t think many at all in this urban sprawl that we are told is progress.
But as stated in the meeting, just because a bylaw exists it doesn’t mean that it can and will be enforced. However, is that a risk we are all willing to take? If the law isn’t going to used why do we need it on the book?
And if you don’t comply:-
7.0 OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
7.1 Every person who fails to comply with the requirements of this bylaw, commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $20,000.
I encourage you to download and read the full bylaw at this web site:-
Chapter 7 – Keeping of Animals, Poultry and Bees
So this bylaw can’t be allowed to applied across the Supercity, the first step is stopping this insanity by removing the consent fee from the draft plan.
What can you do?
Put in a submission to remove the consent fee as it's currently written in the draft, the draft doesn’t state this applies only to Rodney. As its written it applies to all of the Auckland Area.
Here is the page that explains how to make a submission on the draft plan:-
SUBMISSIONS HAVE CLOSE NOW
I urge you to have a read and put in a submission, submissions close on 23 March 2012 at 4pm.
Talk to your local board.
Book a meeting with your Council local board and discuss this consent fee with them. Explain what bee-keeping is and how it benefits the community.
Just today I was talking to a neighbour who said that his garden has grown twice as well this year due to the bees visiting his vegetable garden. These are the kind of good news stories that our local boards need to hear about.
What happens if it isn’t?
The existing bylaws of all councils and going through a harmonising process, which means there will merged together to form a single set of bylaws. Would the council drop a bylaw that could generate money? Hmmm time will tell on that one. Hopefully the council will see sense and remove the bylaw about the consent fee. This work is probably going to happen in 2013. Watch your local papers for the draft bylaws about “Keeping Animals”.
Submissions Close 23 March 2012 4 PM, that’s 15 days 20 hours away guys from this posting.
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