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ARC fighting for ‘prohibited activity' tool

ARC fighting for ability to use ‘prohibited activity’ tool

30 September 2005

The ARC is to support an appeal against a High Court decision that could affect the use of ‘prohibited activity’ as a planning tool.

ARC Chairman Michael Lee says that the council’s support for the appeal is not about whether or not the ARC thinks that mining on the Coromandel Peninsula should be allowed, but is based on the ongoing implications that the decision is likely to have on the ability for all councils, including the ARC, to use prohibited activity status in regional and local planning documents.

Mr Lee says that recent media coverage has tended to focus on the issue of mining in the Coromandel, which has distracted attention somewhat from the reason why the ARC is calling on the support of local councils in the Auckland region, Local Government New Zealand, and other councils throughout New Zealand.

“This is very much a national issue, potentially affecting all New Zealand, and we are getting involved because this decision could significantly weaken our ability to protect some of the Auckland region’s most sensitive and valued areas.

“This measure is a valuable legal tool that councils can use, and its removal would mean that vital decisions about what activities are and are not allowed, will become litigated in the higher courts, rather decided by local councils, with the support of the public.

“The ARC believes that it is vitally important that councils across New Zealand are able to use the prohibited activity tool in the way we believe Parliament intended.

“If we leave this decision unchallenged now then we are likely to be spending considerably more money further down the track when provisions in Auckland’s regional and local plans are inevitably challenged by developers in court.

“What we are proposing to do is work with other councils, and with Local Government New Zealand, to ensure we are all able to continue to use prohibited activity status.”

Prohibited activity is used by 47 city or district councils and 12 regional councils throughout New Zealand, including by the ARC in two regional plans (the Regional Plan: Coastal and the Proposed Air Land and Water Plan), and by six of the seven local councils in the Auckland region.

Mr Lee says that while prohibited activity is not used extensively, it is important that the option remains available to councils. He also says that the use of prohibited activity in local and regional plans is not set in stone, as plans are reviewed at least every 10 years.

The ARC is calling on Local Government New Zealand to co-ordinate a response from all councils who are affected. In the mean time, the ARC has contributed $8000 to the appeal filing fee, enabling Coromandel Watchdog, with the support of the Environmental Defence Society, to appeal the High Court decision.

ENDS

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