The NZUAG Board is calling for nominations from members to be part of a working group that will assess how effective the Code has been and to recommend any necessary changes.
The Code (of Practice for Utility Operators’ Access to Transport Corridors) has been in place since 2012 and has been reviewed twice in that time. The Board is keen to find out how effective it has been for the parties to the Code and the wider community, and whether the purpose and principles of the Code are being met. Details of the working group appear below. This is an important initiative from the Board, and we are keen to have as many nominations as possible. Your industry needs you!
In other news, the revised Code is currently with the Minister for Infrastructure for sign-off, and the Board has confirmed the membership of its working committees for the current financial year. The Board has presented two submissions on the Government’s New Zealand Infrastructure Bill. We received two excellent presentations at our meeting recently- on access to the Kiwi Rail corridor and the common asset data management standard being developed for transport corridors and water assets (see below).
Thank you to those members who have paid, and those who are about to pay, their subscriptions for the 2019/2020 year. Your contributions help us to administer the Code on behalf of industry. If you’re considering joining, then please contact our administrator, Colin Lewis on email@example.com for further information.
That’s it for now. Please contact us if you have any queries.
Code Review Progress:
The formal Code review took around 12 months and was the result of a significant amount of work from the submitters and the review team. The revised Code is now with Minister for Infrastructure for sign-off. Once that happens we will be holding a series of webinars for members and wider industry on the changes to the Code and to generate discussion on the key points. Keep an eye out for the webinar dates and times which will be posted on the website: www.nzuag.org.nz later in the year.
Code Effectiveness Working Group:
The Code reviews that have been conducted since it was introduced in 2012 have been quite technical. The Board is now keen to determine how effective the Code has been in delivering on its purpose and principles.
The purpose of the Code, as outlined in the Act, is to enable access by utility operators’ to transport corridors to be managed in such a way that maximises the benefit to the public, while ensuring all utility operators are treated fairly, disruptions are kept to a minimum, safety is maintained and a nationally consistent approach to access is applied.
The Code contains a set of general principles that must be applied when utility operators are seeking access to transport corridors. These principles require parties to work together, to apply consistent and efficient procedures, to foster technical excellence and quality, to ensure equity and fairness, to respect others’ assets and property rights and to promote safety.
While the Board reports on Code performance annually, it is keen todetermine how effective the Code has been in delivering benefits to utility operators, corridor managers and the general public. A member-based working group will be appointed by the Board to progress the evaluation.
Nominations are now open for the Code Effectiveness working group. The terms of reference and background information are on the website. The working group will be independent of the Board, but report to it. The working group will be serviced by a small secretariat, and is expected to meet monthly, either face to face or remotely. It is hoped that appointments to the working group will be made by July, with the final report to be presented at the NZUAG Board meeting in May 2020.
The working group will need to be comprise an equal number of Utility Operators (UO’s) and Corridor Managers (CM’s) in line with the approach NZUAG takes to all its work on behalf of industry. If you think you could contribute, or know someone who could, please email Colin Lewis: firstname.lastname@example.org. The industry will be grateful for your contribution.
Code Performance: 2017/18:
The NZUAG is required to report annually to the Minister and industry on Code performance as set out in section 8.2.2 of the Code. The draft report was considered at the recent Board meeting, and is being finalised for submission to the Minister.
As part of the preparation of the report, CM’s and UO’s were asked to provide information on key aspects of their Code related activities. The information has revealed a good level of infrastructure activity as measured by the number of Corridor Access Requests (CARS) submitted to CM’s for work in transport corridors. The number of reported third party strikes on utility assets, another measure of Code performance, was up on last year, but that could be a reflection of improved reporting.
Overall, while the number of returns was slightly improved from last year, it is still disappointing that we did not achieve a 100% return rate, given compliance with the Code is mandatory. The Compliance committee will be looking into this issue as it prepares for the 2018/19 report.
A copy of the report will be available on the website shortly.
New Zealand Infrastructure Commission Bill:
The Government is proposing to establish the New Zealand infrastructure Commission, whose purpose will be “to coordinate, develop and promote an approach to infrastructure that encourages infrastructure, and services that result from infrastructure, that improve the well-being of new Zealanders”. NZUAG presented its submission to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee recently, and pointed out that the purpose of the Commission was well aligned with the purpose of the Code as outlined in the Utilities Access Act. We proposed that Government oversight of the Code should be shifted from Treasury to the Commission.
The select committee sought further information on how utility congestion in transport corridors is being managed, which resulted in a further submission from the Board. Both submissions are available on the NZUAG website.
Access to the Rail Corridor:
At our recent meeting, Board member Ria Apiata, KiwiRail’s National Protection Manager, outlined the improvements KiwiRail has been working on over the last 6 months to the Permit to Enter System by which utility operators can get access to the rail corridor. While still far from perfect, the changes have simplified the process for contractors entering the network. This includes the Access Request Form now becoming only available online through the KiwiRail website. KiwiRail encourages organisations to contact them to arrange a meeting where KiwiRail can go over the organisation’s requirements for access and cover off all of their expectations. KiwiRail wants to see concise and rail specific safety plans (reviewed and approved by the company requesting the work to be carried out), methodology of what will be done, and details of the tools, vehicles and equipment that will be used. KiwiRail has developed a template to help simplify the access request submission process. A new audit will commence in the network on 1 July this year, where KiwiRail will be checking whether organisations are working as per their permit conditions. A letter will be sent out to all organisations on KiwiRail’s mailing list with the details. If anyone doesn’t receive this, they can contact Ria directly via email on email@example.com.
KiwiRail is hosting quarterly contractor meetings throughout June and invites anybody interested to attend, in order to provide feedback on the changes as well as getting the latest updates of alterations to the rail network. These meetings will be held in Auckland (June 18), Wellington (June 20) and Christchurch (June 26).
Common Asset Data Management:
The New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) and Local Government NZ (LGNZ) endorsed a business case in 2018 on the benefits of a common asset management data standard for land transport and water assets. A sector-led project is underway to develop the standards and an implementation plan in which to embed the standards nationally. In the short term, NZTA and LGNZ are leading the governance of this project, but it is recognised that it will have some key touch points with the duties and functions of the NZUAG and potentially the membership in general. An NZTA representative met with the NZUAG Board recently to outline the project and to start the conversation on the potential governance of infrastructure data management standards in the future.
The Board will receive a paper on this issue at our August meeting, and I’ll report progress after that.
NZUAG Board Committees:
The NZUAG Board committees, membership and sector representation were confirmed at the recent meeting and are listed below. The terms of reference for the Committees can be found on the NZUAG website.
Code Awareness, Education and Training Committee:Tracy Bell (Chair), Laurence Jones (CM’s); Rene D’Ath, Nick Miskelly (UO’s)
Communications Committee:Members: Ria Apiata (Chair), Ian Cox (CM’s); Tony Hale, Brendan Drysdale (UO’s)
Code Compliance Committee: Rene D’Ath (Chair), Geoff Thorn (UO’s); Tracy Bell, 1 member tbc (CM’s)
Utilities Access Act Review Committee:Nick Miskelly (UO); Ian Cox (CM);
Finance Committee: Geoff Thorn (Chair), Brendan Drysdale (UO’s); Ian Cox, 1 member tbc (CM’s)
That’s’ it for now. I’ll be back in touch after our August meeting.