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Greens urge action to save coastline

14 September 2008

Greens urge action to save coastline

The Green Party today called for a national ranking of coastlines plus central Government action to protect those deemed "national treasures".

Party Co-Leader Russel Norman, on a three-day visit to Northland - an area under huge pressure by coastal developers - says "vague directions" from the Government are not helping regional councils reign in "pro-developer" district councillors in the region.

"The Conservation Department's recently drafted NZ Coastal Policy Statement - which is going through a hearing process until the end of the year - includes positive measures such as restricting sewage outfalls, protecting indigenous coastal vegetation and retaining public access. But most of it is too vague and doesn't specify those beaches, harbours and wild rocky coasts which most New Zealanders would agree are national taonga," Dr Norman says.

"We need clear ranking which identifies these taonga and prevents developers from ruining them by applying for private plan changes and developing them.

"Much of the development is irreversible and I'm hearing of cases up here where developers and their lawyers don't take no for an answer and in effect gradually pay their way around the Resource Management Act by financially exhausting opponents."

Issues Dr Norman has discussed with concerned locals in the past few days include plans to build 850 houses along 5.3 hectares of beach at Te Arai in the Rodney District, "Surfers Paradise" type pressures at Paihia including the failed bid to build a 15-story-high apartment block which would destroy local character, and proposals for a new town and industrial area along the wild sweeping coastline of Bream Bay, south of Whangarei.

"One of the saddest aspects of the visit is finding just how ill-equipped some district councils are for the expansion they're encouraging," he says.

"For example partly treated sewage from pathetically-inadequate coastal treatment plants is still flowing into the beautiful Hokianga Harbour. Because of this, the Far North District Council should be encouraging less development in villages such as Opononi and Rawene, rather than more."

Last night Dr Norman and Green members of the Far North including Northland electorate candidate Martin Leiding met representatives of the local hapü Ngati Korokoro, Te Pouka and Ngati Wharara at Kokohuia Marae, Omapere, to hear the concerns of tangata whenua about pollution issues.

"This morning, iwi reps showed me the failing sewage plant and landfill alongside the Waiarohia Stream. This creek is being polluted just a few hundred metres from Hokianga Harbour near the heads - a kaimoana source, site of huge cultural significance to Maori, and famous for tourism.

"The Far North District council should be ashamed, but unfortunately this is still common around New Zealand and things will get worse if we don't take stock of our coastal heritage."

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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