Local Government Magazine
Planning

Did Noah get planning consent?

Bill Conroy reports on a dramatic find said to have been made among the Dead Sea scrolls and reflects on the possibility that Noah defied planning law when he built the ARC.

Archaeologists have found papyrus scrolls in caves near the Black Sea that have excited much discussion in academic circles. The scrolls are the remains of documents recording a resource consent application made to the Jericho Tribal Council in the 5th or 6th millennium BCE by a man named Noah seeking approval to build a boat in his backyard.

Only an incomplete record of the documentation relating to the planning process was retrieved but it is sufficient to show just how much difficulty the Noah application caused the planning department. This is what the planners told the Tribal Council about the Noah application.

We have an Application for Resource Consent (ARC) from one Elijah Noah, a prophet living at 13A Oasis Drive, Jericho, seeking approval to build a flotation device in his backyard at the above address. Mr Noah states that the device will be completed in seven days and the work will not cause any disturbance or annoyance to his neighbours.

Mr Noah has lodged the application because his God has told him that a flood will soon cover the earth and Noah must build a boat to carry his family to safety because the rest of the population will perish.

The applicant claims that in seven days it will start to rain for 40 days and nights and the earth will be flooded so that every creature will be destroyed, except for certain animals and birds that will be taken into Mr Noah’s flotation device.

It is understood that there will be 20,000 animals – including mammoths, tigers, lions, elephants, crocodiles and so on – and 25,000 birds to be accommodated on the ARC. Mr Noah will not be collecting these animals personally, because his God will do that.

Irrespective of who collects the wild beasts they will be coming to town and special facilities will have to be erected to house them. It is estimated that a zoo/aviary complex would require an enclosed area of not less than 25 square miles.

The flotation device (or ARC) will be built out of reeds with three decks and an entrance on the side. The vessel will measure 150 yards long, 25 yards wide and 15 yards high.

The applicant is not a boat builder but states that God will help him. This is of serious concern to Health and Safety who must be assured that the person advising the builder is properly qualified to help with the project.

If the project is allowed to proceed Health and Safety will require a building to be erected over the site to protect the workers and to prevent the work activity intruding into the neighbourhood environment. That building would cover an area of 6000 square yards.

Staff have not made a detailed study of the financial, socio or environmental implications of this application but have noted that the following works would be required.

  1. A temporary village to house 10,000 construction workers and their families (say 40,000 people in total) to build all the new structures required;
  2. Additional housing to accommodate new service industry workers in Jericho estimated at 5000 people and families (say 20,000 in total);
  3. Full water and sewer reticulation throughout the town;
  4. A new water treatment plant;
  5. A new sewerage treatment plant and settling ponds;
  6. A landfill and recycling facility;
  7. The construction of a new water canal from a suitable fresh water source – say a distance of 500 miles – and associated works.

No attempt has been made to quantify the impact of the proposal on existing educational facilities, medical or hospital services, or on any other element of the town’s infrastructure.

There the record ends because the scrolls are too badly damaged to decipher the contents. However the council decision has survived, and it is clear and unequivocal.

It did not rain for seven days. But nature never sleeps and she was going about her relentless business. Shortly she would show her hand.

So what about Noah? Did he simply ignore the council decision and build the ARC anyway? Or did he achieve God’s purpose in some other way? Whatever the case, the flood came.

Council Decision

The application is declined on the grounds of public safety, impact on the environment, health and safety issues, cruelty to animals, noise nuisance to neighbours, lack of evidence to show any possibility of flooding, or any other natural catastrophe, to justify the construction of a flotation device as described. Mr Noah’s proposal is ill-conceived, poorly planned and totally unreasonable, and he was poorly advised in deciding to go ahead with this project.


  • Bill Conroy has worked for many years in local government and is now a freelance writer and poet living in retirement in Tauranga. 
willcon80@hotmail.com

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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