Canterbury Regional Council

Environment Canterbury
Canterbury Regional Council
Country: New Zealand
Regional Council
Name:Environment Canterbury
Chair:Margaret Bazley
Population:600,100 (June 2016)[1]
Land Area:44,638 km²
Cities and Towns
Cities:Christchurch, Timaru
Towns:Kaikoura, Ashburton, Leeston, Rolleston, Fairlie, Temuka, Methven, Rakaia, Geraldine, Rangiora, Oxford, Kaiapoi, Darfield, Hamner Springs, Akaroa, Springfield, Pleasant Point, Mayfield, Cheviot, Waimate, Twizel
Constituent Territorial Authorities
Hurunui District
Kaikoura District
Ashburton District
Timaru District
Mackenzie District
Selwyn District
Waimate District
Waimakariri District
Waitaki District (part)

Canterbury Regional Council is the regional council for Canterbury, the largest region in the South Island of New Zealand. It is part of New Zealand's structure of local government. It uses the promotional name Environment Canterbury, frequently abbreviated to ECan.[2]

Geographic coverage and responsibilities

The Environment Canterbury logo

The area of its jurisdiction consists of all the river catchments on the east coast of the South Island from the Clarence River, north of Kaikoura, to the Waitaki River, in South Canterbury.[3] The region includes the Canterbury Plains, north and south Canterbury, the major braided rivers of the South Island, (the Waimakariri River, the Rakaia River and the Rangitata River) the Mackenzie Basin and the Waitaki River.

The Canterbury Regional Council is responsible for a wide variety of functions including public passenger transport, regional biosecurity, river engineering, environmental monitoring and investigations, regional policy and planning and for considering applications for certain resource consents - land use consents (including beds of waterbodies), coastal permits, water permits, and discharge permits. Canterbury Regional Council has strategic responsibilities for air, water and transport.[4]

Christchurch often has temperature inversions which trap pollutants causing air quality issues. Ecan set up the Clean Heat Project in 2002 and it ran until 2011 to assist with cleaner burning home heating and extra home insulation.[5]


The Canterbury Regional Council's spiritual predecessor was the Canterbury United Council that was formed in 1979, which was the first regional government body in New Zealand since the end of the provinces in 1876. However this united council was replaced by the current regional council in 1988 after local government reforms.[6]


Environment Canterbury Office
The main office of Environment Canterbury on Tuam Street in Christchurch

Environment Canterbury's main office is at 200 Tuam Street Christchurch in an environmentally friendly building designed and built to house the regional council's 500 Christchurch based staff. The old building was demolished in 2011 after the Canterbury earthquakes. All staff moved into the new building on 18 April 2016.[7][8] ECan also has smaller offices in Timaru, Ashburton, and Kaikoura.


Last councillors

Until May 2010, Canterbury Regional Council was governed by 14 elected councillors who were elected on a first-past-the-post basis from eight regional constituencies.[9]

On 24 September 2009, Alec Neill became Chairman after the previous Chairman, Sir Kerry Burke, lost a motion of no confidence adopted eight votes for to six against from the other councillors. Burke remained a regional councillor[10]

Sir Kerry Burke had been re-elected chairperson in October 2007. The councillors' vote was initially tied between Burke and Alec Neill. Sir Kerry Burke has been an elected councillor since 1998 and was the Chairman from 2004.[11]

In the October 2007 local government elections, four new regional councillors were elected on platforms promoting better management of water resources and opposition to the Central Plains Water scheme.[12] The four were: David Sutherland and Rik Tindall, who stood as "Save Our Water"[13] candidates, and independent candidates Jane Demeter[14] and Eugenie Sage.

The other councillors were Mark Oldfield, Bronwen Murray (South Canterbury Constituency), Ross Little, Jo Kane, (North Canterbury), Carole Evans (Christchurch North), Pat Harrow, Alec Neill (Christchurch West), and Bob Kirk and Sir Kerry Burke (Christchurch South).[15]


In March 2010, the National Government sacked the Environment Canterbury councillors[16] and replaced them with commissioners:[17]

The commissioners held their first public meeting on 6 May 2010.[18] The National Government initially promised a return to elected councillors with the local elections in October 2013. In September 2012, this was revised for commissioners to stay until the October 2016 local elections. In March 2014, a statutory review in ECan was begun, and the National Government released a public discussion document in March 2015 outlining a proposal for the regional council's future, with a stated preference for a mixed model of seven elected members and six members appointed by the government. Nick Smith, as Minister for the Environment, stated that "it may be appropriate to consider these options beyond 2019". Louise Upston, as Associate Minister for Local Government, justified the mixed model as it "could provide the necessary stability for Canterbury from 2016". Former district councillor and now member of parliament Sage criticised the government backdown as denying Cantabrians to make their own decisions. Artist Sam Mahon, who is a strong opponent of the sacking of the councillors, gave his opinion as the proposal presenting "just status quo, that gives the perception of democracy".[19] Smith confirmed the mixed model in July 2015, with seven councillors to be elected in 2016 alongside six appointed commissioners, with a return to a fully elected council in 2019.[20]

Chief Executive

Bill Bayfield is the Chief Executive of Environment Canterbury. He took up the position in June 2011.[21] Dr. Bryan Jenkins was the chief executive from June 2003.[22]

Regional Policy Statement

The Canterbury Regional Policy Statement became operative in 1998.[23]

In 2006, a mandatory 10-year review of the Regional Policy Statement commenced.[24]

Regional Plans and Water Conservation Orders

Canterbury has the following 'operative' regional plans.

The Natural Resources Regional Plan (PNRRP) proceeded in two stages. Chapters 1 to 3 (Overview, Ngai Tahu and Air Quality) were publicly notified in June 2002. Chapters 4-8 were publicly notified in July 2004. Chapters 1 to 3 were decided on in September 2007 and some aspects of this large and detailed plan were appealed to the Environment Court. Hearings into Chapters 4-8 started in late 2007 and continued throughout 2008.[25] The Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan chapters on Ngai Tahu and natural resources, air quality, water quality, water quantity, beds of lakes and rivers, wetlands and soil conservation were operative from 11 June 2011,[26] replacing the older Canterbury Regional Council Transitional Regional Plan (October 1991), which was a collection of rules and bylaws predating the Resource Management Act 1991, and was the operative plan for most of the region, except the Waitaki catchment and the Kaikoura area.[27]

There are also four Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) that apply in Canterbury: the Rakaia River WCO, the Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) WCO, the Rangitata WCO and the Ahuriri River WCO.

Resource consents

Consents Backlog to 30 June 2011.

Canterbury Regional Council issues and supervises the most resource consents under the Resource Management Act 1991 of any of the 16 regional councils in New Zealand. In the year ended 30 June 2006, Environment Canterbury processed 3,381 applications, more than double the number processed by any other consent authority (Environment Waikato had the next highest number; 1,384 applications in 2006).[28] By January 2005, Canterbury Regional Council had issued over 14,000 resource consents.[29] The conditions of individual consents can be viewed on line by using the six-digit "CRC" number.[30]

In October 2004, Canterbury Regional Council had a 'backlog' of unprocessed applications due largely to the notification of applications to take groundwater in highly allocated groundwater zones.[31]

The 'backlog' or number of applications for consents being processed, is recorded daily on the Environment Canterbury web site. An upward trend appears to have ended in the middle of 2008, with numbers unprocessed slowly declining into 2009.[32] The sharp increase in applications in June 2007 was due to the review of 400 existing resource consents in the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater allocation zone.[33]


Canterbury Regional Council received the lowest rating given by rural ratepayers in a Federated Farmers survey on local authorities.[34] The grade took into account the council's level of approachability, degree of bias, provision of roads, value for money, and implementation of the RMA.[35]

In October 2009 the Government announced a review of ECan under Section 24A of the Resource Management Act. The reason cited was that a delay in processing resource consents "is holding the Canterbury region back".[36] In March 2010, after the release of the "Creech Report" the government chose to appoint a panel of commissioners to replace the elected Councillors, as described above.[37]

See also


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2016 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-16 (2017 boundary)". Statistics New Zealand. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  2. For example: "Environment Canterbury (ECan) has kept next year's general rates rise to levels promised in its long-term plan.." Gorman, Paul (27 June 2008). "General rate increase of 2.05% confirmed". The Press.
  3. This area is easily viewed on the web-based GIS tool.
  4. 'ECan's new face'. Editorial. The Press. 24 October 2007, Archived 2008-07-23 at WebCite
  5. "Clean Heat Incentives and Subsidies". Environment Canterbury. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  6. Canterbury region: Politics and government, Encyclopedia of New Zealand, retrieved 21 May 2014.
  7. Pearson, Anna (13 March 2015). "ECan's new offices rise from the dust". The Press. p. A5. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  8. Fletcher, Jack (19 April 2016). "ECan move boosts city work force". The Press. p. A3. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  9. Local Government Commission Determination Archived 22 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine. of the representation arrangements to apply for the election of the Canterbury Regional Council to be held on 13 October 2007, by Sue Piper (Chair) and Gwen Bull (Commissioner), 10 April 2007, retrieved 31 January 2008.
  10. Environment Canterbury new chair, deputy chair unchanged, Environment Canterbury Press Release, 24 September 2009, retrieved 24 September 2009. See also Alec Neill replaces Sir Kerry, The Press/ on-line, 24 September 2009, retrieved 24 September 2009. At WebCite
  11. "ECan chair re-elected, new deputy chair". (Press release). Environment Canterbury. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  12. 'Water fears change ECan, Woods out', by Paul Gorman, The Press, Monday, 15 October 2007, retrieved 15 October 2007.
  13. Councillor Profiles Archived 23 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Save our water web site, retrieved 31 January 2008.
  14. Old problems, new thinking - Vote Jane Demeter Archived 11 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Jane Demeter's web page, retrieved 31 January 2008.
  15. Election Results Archived 19 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Environment Canterbury website, retrieved 30 January 2008.
  16. Gorman, Paul (30 March 2010). "ECan councillors sacked". The Press. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  17. "About the Commissioners". Environment Canterbury. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  18. "First public meeting of Environment Canterbury Commissioners, powhiri". Environment Canterbury. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  19. Pearson, Anna (19 March 2015). "ECan plan amounts to a 'broken promise'". The Press. p. A1.
  20. Barclay, Chris (9 July 2015). "Minister reveals new ECan governance model". The Press. pp. A1–A2. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  21. "Environment Canterbury new chief executive starts" (Press release). Environment Canterbury. 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  22. Environment Canterbury appoints new CEO, Environment Canterbury Press Release,, 11 June 2003, retrieved 9 December 2007.
  23. The Canterbury Regional Policy Statement, Report No R98/4, June 1998, Canterbury Regional Council.
  24. Regional Policy Statement Review Archived 11 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Environment Canterbury website, retrieved 19 November 2007.
  25. Natural Resources Regional Plan (PNRRP), Environment Canterbury website, retrieved 2 March 2008.
  26. "Environment Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan operative" (Press release). Environment Canterbury. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  27. Canterbury Regional Council Transitional Regional Plan Archived 8 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine., October 1991, Canterbury Regional Council.
  28. "Resource Management Act: Two-yearly Survey of Local Authorities 2005/2006, Ref. ME796, Appendix 1: Number of Resource Consents Processed". Ministry for the Environment. March 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  29. Over 14,000 consents available online, Press Release, Environment Canterbury,, 24 January 2005.
  30. Environment Canterbury website Consents Search function
  31. "Consents backlog addressed" (Press release). Environment Canterbury. 6 October 2004. Archived from the original on 6 December 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
  32. Consent Median Timeframes, Environment Canterbury web page, retrieved 2009-10-31.
  33. Review of consent conditions to benefit stream health, Environment Canterbury Press Release,, 3 July 2007, retrieved 19 November 2007.
  34. Council Grades - The Full List, Federated Farmers Survey, September 2007,, retrieved 29 October 2007.
  35. Taranaki Home to New Zealand’s Best Council, Federated Farmers Press Release,, 12 September 2007, retrieved 29 October 2007.
  36. "Govt initiates Environment Canterbury performance review" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  37. "Commissioners needed to fix Canterbury water". NZ Government. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
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