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RMA should have protected Waikawau Bay

RMA should have protected Waikawau Bay

The purchase of Waikawau Bay in the Coromandel by the Government for inclusion in the Department of Conservation estate has been welcomed today by the Green Party, as providing valuable opportunities for public access and recreation.

However, Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons questioned whether purchase was necessary to meet the goals of protecting the unique ecological values of mature coastal forest, wetlands and high plant diversity.

"It is fundamentally important this precious coastal land is protected from forest clearance and housing development," Ms Fitzsimons said. "However that should already be assured under the Biodiversity Strategy and the Resource Management Act.

"The RMA already requires councils to protect land with extraordinary biodiversity from subdivision and development. The Government shouldn't have had to step in for this purpose. Section 6 declares the 'preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment', and its protection from 'inappropriate subdivision and development' to be a 'matter of national importance'.

"However, a number of district councils are not observing section 6. Everyone knows that while the Thames-Coromandel District Plan allows only for subdivision into large lifestyle blocks, it will be too easy for owners to get consent eventually to subdivide into much smaller blocks with a house and garage and driveway on each," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"We cannot rely on state purchase to protect every piece of important biodiversity from the bulldozer. We need to be able to rely on councils to write plans that observe the Act, and to stick to them," she said.

In announcing the purchase of the 150 hectares of coastal forest in Waikawau Bay from University of Auckland earlier today, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said the Government's aims included securing perpetual public access and protecting the extremely high plant diversity and rare wetlands in the area.

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