Saturday, 24 December 2022

Not the Outside of the Asylum

Time flies.

From the time I got here, until relatively recently, NZ really seemed to be Douglas Adams's Outside of the Asylum. The last sane place as the rest of the world goes mad. Or at least the place going mad more slowly than other places.

I think we've left the Outside of the Asylum and have taken up camp with another of Adams's tribes: the Golgafrinchans.

Remember the Golgafrinchans? They're the ones who convinced their planet's useless people that their planet was doomed, loaded them up on Arkship B, and sent them off on a collision course with Earth. Once here, they displaced the cavemen who'd been working away at providing the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. 

After crash-landing, they did the thing that useless people do: have loads of committee meetings rather than get on with doing anything useful, like inventing fire or the wheel. 

Like so:

The Captain made a sort of conciliatory harrumphing noise. 

"I would like to call to order," he said pleasantly, "the five hundred and seventy-third meeting of the colonization committee of Fintlewoodlewix..." 

Ten seconds, thought Ford as he leapt to his feet again. 

"This is futile," he exclaimed, "five hundred and seventy-three committee meetings and you haven't even discovered fire yet " 

"If you would care," said the girl with the strident voice, "to examine the agenda sheet..." 

"Agenda rock," trilled the hairdresser happily. 

"Thank you, I've made that point," muttered Ford. 

"... you... will... see..." continued the girl firmly, "that we are having a report from the hairdressers' Fire Development Sub-Committee today." 

"Oh... ah - " said the hairdresser with a sheepish look which is recognized the whole Galaxy over as meaning "Er, will next Tuesday do?" 

"Alright," said Ford, rounding on him, "what have you done? What are you going to do? What are your thoughts on fire development?" 

"Well I don't know," said the hairdresser, "All they gave me was a couple of sticks..." 

"So what have you done with them?" 

Nervously, the hairdresser fished in his track suit top and handed over the fruits of his labour to Ford. 

Ford held them up for all to see. 

"Curling tongs," he said. 

The crowd applauded. 

"Never mind," said Ford, "Rome wasn't burnt in a day." 

The crowd hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about, but they loved it nevertheless. They applauded. 

"Well, you're obviously being totally naive of course," said the girl, "When you've been in marketing as long as I have you'll know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We've got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them." 

The crowd were tense. They were expecting something wonderful from Ford. 

"Stick it up your nose," he said. 

"Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know," insisted the girl, "Do people want fire that can be applied nasally?" 

"Do you?" Ford asked the crowd. 

"Yes " shouted some. 

"No " shouted others happily. 

They didn't know, they just thought it was great. 

"And the wheel," said the Captain, "What about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project." 

"Ah," said the marketing girl, "Well, we're having a little difficulty there." 

"Difficulty?" exclaimed Ford, "Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It's the single simplest machine in the entire Universe " 

The marketing girl soured him with a look. 

"Alright, Mr. Wiseguy," she said, "you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should have." 

The crowd went wild. One up to the home team, they thought. 

Ford shrugged his shoulders and sat down again. 

"Almighty Zarquon," he said, "have none of you done anything?" 

NZ's Energy News has been documenting our decline. Read this and tell me that Kiwis are not the true descendants of the Golgafrinchans. Remember that nobody (except me) likes landfills, and that we are looking at energy shortages. 

Environment Canterbury has declined to process the revised application for a proposed waste-to-energy plant in South Canterbury.

“This is due to insufficient information being supplied relating to the activity and its effects on the environment – in particular, the lack of a cultural impact assessment,” the regional council body says.

In November 2022, South Island Resource Recovery Limited lodged seven applications for reassessment, after its initial applications were returned in October.

ECan regional leader of consents delivery Hayleigh Brereton acknowledges the resubmitted application addresses many of the matters raised in the previous version regarding adverse effects of the discharges to air, stormwater and wastewater. But she says one critical issue has not been addressed.

“This is a very large proposal and the first of its kind in New Zealand, and would have some wide-reaching potential effects, including many unknown effects on mana whenua,” Brereton says.

“A site-specific Cultural Impact Assessment is required to be completed either by, or in close consultation with Te R┼źnanga o Waihao. This remains an outstanding matter, and we, therefore, consider the application incomplete.”

The application has been returned under Section 88(3A) of the RMA. Waimate District Council has also returned the application.

ECan says if South Island Resource Recovery Limited wishes to proceed with an application, it must submit a new one in full.

“If it disagrees with our decision, it can lodge an official objection.”

We can't have a waste-to-energy plant because it didn't have a site-specific Cultural Impact Assessment. Declined by Environment Canterbury. After it provided all the paperwork necessary showing that it didn't cause problems for air or water - the traditional environmental concerns. 

Almighty Zarquon. We're doomed. 

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