Award-Winning Proposed RPS Adopted
Award-Winning Proposed RPS Adopted
An award-winning Proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) for Northland – independently described today as “modern, innovative and balanced” – has been formally adopted by the Northland Regional Council.
Several years in the making, the council’s Proposed RPS identifies the significant resource management issues for the region and sets out how resources such as land, water, soil, minerals, plants, animals and structures will be managed.
Three Independent Commissioners spent five weeks hearing hundreds of submissions on the RPS in May and June this year and their resulting recommendations were presented to councillors for adoption at their monthly meeting in Whangarei today. (subs: Tuesday September 17)
Among the commissioners’ recommendations were that council adopt improving water management as a key objective as well as a precautionary approach to genetic engineering and climate change. However, they did not recommend council introduce a mining ban.
In delivering their recommendations to councillors, Commissioner Brent Cowie praised the Proposed RPS as a modern, innovative and balanced document that would serve the region well into the future.
Council Chairman Craig Brown says he’s thrilled the council had collectively decided to adopt the commissioners’ recommendations and paid tribute to all those involved in the huge amount of work it had taken to get the Proposed RPS to the point it was today.
He was also pleased it had been adopted by councillors during their current term, enabling the new council that would be in place after the October 12 local body elections to effectively “hit the ground running”.
Mr Brown says a very robust process had been followed over a number of years and while he was unable to go into detail until an official announcement had been made later this month, he was delighted the calibre of the Proposed RPS had just been recognised with a national award.
He says both the commissioners and council are grateful for the considerable time and effort hundreds of submitters had put into the process, describing their involvement as a vital contribution to an important document.
“The Proposed RPS doesn’t set rules itself,
but does filter down into district and regional plans which
contain the rules around how people, businesses and industry
use Northland’s resources. This in turn which will impact
on the way these resources are managed in future.”
Mr Brown says the GE issue – and the approach that should be taken to it – had been central to many submissions during the recent Proposed RPS hearings.
“The commissioners recommended the inclusion of a policy in the RPS to adopt a precautionary approach to the introduction of GE to the environment, but said any controls on GE should not attempt to address liability for harm.”
The commissioners did not believe local government would be in any better position to address liability issues than central government.
On the mining front, Mr Brown says the commissioners had not recommended the inclusion of any new mining-specific provisions in the Proposed RPS.
“They considered a total ban on all forms of mining in Northland was simply inappropriate. On the issue of hard rock mining, the commissioners considered that other provisions already within the Proposed RPS (for instance those addressing water quality) were sufficient and would provide an adequate framework for assessing the effects of any mining proposals.”
He says while numerous other recommended changes to the roughly 180 page proposed RPS had been adopted by councillors today, the overall intent of the RPS would not change greatly as a result.
“This proposed RPS has a much more integrated approach than its predecessor, which was written nearly 20 years ago, and hopefully aligns much more closely to the world we’re now living in.”
“It’s designed to better balance things like having well-connected communities and enabling our economy, while maintaining a healthy environment and minimising risks in hazard-prone areas.”
Meanwhile, says while councillors had formally adopted the Proposed RPS, submitters will still be able to appeal any aspect/s they are unhappy with to the Environment Court.
Information about the Proposed RPS – and the next steps in the process – is available from the council’s website at www.nrc.govt.nz/newRPS