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Early release of Policy decisions to help community

Early release of Policy decisions to help community
For immediate release: Monday 26 March 2012

Water quality, land use and the coastal environment provisions of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) have been released early to help inform the community on policy direction.

The Regional Council believes this information will assist the community in making submissions to the draft Ten Year Plan 2012 – 2022, which opens for submission tomorrow.

The RPS provides high-level policy direction for regional, district and city plans across the region. The draft Ten Year Plan is being released on Tuesday 27 March for consultation with the community and stakeholders.
Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor Raewyn Bennett, who chaired the proposed RPS Hearing Committee, said she believed it was the first time a Council had taken the step of releasing this type of policy information early.

“While the RPS is very close to being finalised, we decided it was prudent to release this information early,” Councillor Bennett said.

“We’d like people who make submissions on the draft Ten Year Plan to be informed on the policy context of this significant spending.”

Councillor Bennett said the RPS Hearing Committee heard from 98 submitters for 17 days during September and October last year. A total of 183 submissions and 57 further submissions were received on the proposed RPS.

“This has been a thorough process and we have heard from a lot of people, which is great as it demonstrates the significant interest there is in the community about helping Council to get policy direction right,” Councillor Bennett said.

“The Regional Council has listened to the community’s concerns around the water quality of the region’s lakes, rivers and streams. Its decisions on the proposed Regional Policy Statement are intended to implement a framework for reducing nutrients entering catchments at risk, with a focus on Lake Rotorua in particular,” she said.

Councillor Bennett said that included in the RPS water quality and land use proposals were stronger references to the importance of soil as a resource, and that water quality was to be enhanced to meet the values associated with the water’s use and protection. Council’s decisions required a reduction in the levels of nutrients entering the region’s water bodies.

A variation to the Proposed RPS to make further changes to the coastal environment provisions will be considered in May before submissions are called for. Those changes will see the landward boundary of the coastal environment identified and areas of outstanding natural character mapped.
“Releasing the coastal environment provisions early will enable the variation to the proposed RPS to give effect to the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 in light of the Council’s decisions,” Councillor Bennett said.
Key changes to the coastal environment provisions include the importance of coastal access for all and how ‘appropriate’ coastal development may be decided, more detail about mangrove management and a new policy discouraging hard protection structures to reduce coastal hazard risks. A new policy also provides for ports and their infrastructure.
The Hearing Committee’s recommendations on the rest of the Proposed RPS will be presented to the Regional Council in June and the Council’s decisions are expected to be notified in early August.
Decisions on the Proposed RPS are subject to appeal by submitters to the Environment Court. Submitters have 30 days to appeal any decision.

The draft Ten Year Plan and Proposed RPS are available on the Regional Council website www.boprc.govt.nz. Ten Year Plan submissions opened on Tuesday, 27 March and close at 4pm on Friday, 27 April.


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