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Coastal occupation charges put aside – for now

Coastal occupation charges put aside – for now

Tuesday 9 May 2006

Environment Bay of Plenty today voted to put aside plans to charge a type of rent for coastal structures like boat sheds and marinas.

The strategic policy committee has decided to wait for changes in legislation before taking the proposal further.

However, in their recommendation, councillors expressed support for the principle of coastal occupation charges.

Coastal occupation charges are a “rental” for structures like jetties and wharves that provide private benefit while taking up public space. They recompense the public for their loss of access, as the money collected must be spent within the coastal marine area.

Under the Resource Management Act, all regional councils in New Zealand have to decide whether to re-introduce such charges. Environment Bay of Plenty has spent the past two years investigating the issue and working out a fair regime of charging, explains strategic policy chairman, Bryan Riesterer.

However, the regional council has decided not to go ahead with a plan change because of “unresolved issues and uncertainty in the Government legislation as it stands”, Mr Riesterer says. A major aspect was that of equity, or fairness.” The Port of Tauranga, for example, would likely be exempt from the charges because of historical occupation approvals.

“Current issues with the legislation make it difficult to implement coastal occupation charges,” he says. Central government support had been “noticeably absent” during the preliminary consultation carried out over the last six months. “We think its best to wait until the Government has clarified its intentions.”

Because of the lack of clarity, any plan change process would be expensive and complicated for all parties.

Mr Riesterer acknowledges the time and effort of communities and individuals involved in the preliminary consultation process. “We thank everyone for their considered input. In the process, we learnt a lot about what people want for the coast and how much they value it.”


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