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Charges for coastal structures a step closer

Charges for coastal structures a step closer

Tuesday 10 May 2005 When you build on land, you have to pay for it. So why not in the sea?

Last week, Environment Bay of Plenty came a step closer to charging a type of “rent” for the use of public space in the coastal marine area when that use means others are denied access to it.

At a strategic policy committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors had their first shot at a charging regime for structures such as marinas, marine farms, boat sheds, moorings and wharves.

After discussing the proposal put to them, they asked for clarification on some of the method used to work out the charges, particularly for marine farms. They will look at a revised version again in June before putting the matter out for public consultation.

Under the Resource Management Act, all regional councils in New Zealand have to decide whether to introduce coastal occupation charges for coastal structures.

Committee chairman Bryan Riesterer says most of the region’s coastal marine area – its beaches, seabed and sea - is public space, which means it is freely available to the whole community. Private structures like marinas essentially block that access.

“So coastal occupation charges make sure people who take up space pay rent for it – to the community via the regional council,” he explains. By law, money collected from the charges must be spent within the coastal marine area. This could include coastal research, maritime education, improving water quality, and funding navigation and safety.

Environment Bay of Plenty spent more than $1.4 million on coastal-related work in 2003-2004. “This was paid for by all general ratepayers, not by the people who are actually using this space and who have the right to exclude others from it.”

Coastal Occupation Charges are like “rental” for use of space and are not rates or taxes, explains senior environmental planner Aileen Lawrie. “They are a charge for occupying publicly owned space and recompensing the public for the loss they experience.”

Garth Laing, a registered valuer with Property Solutions (BOP) Ltd, was contracted by Environment Bay of Plenty to consider options and prepare a draft charging regime for coastal occupation charges. Any charging regime must be fair, equitable and transparent.

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