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Hurunui Opposes Proposed Policy Statement on Biodiversity

MEDIA RELEASE

30 May 2011

Hurunui Opposes Proposed National Policy Statement on Biodiversity

The Hurunui District Council is strongly opposing the regulatory approach suggested by the Proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity 2011.

While Mayor Winton says the Hurunui District Council places importance on indigenous biodiversity and understands the wish to address the threat of further biodiversity decline in New Zealand – it does not believe the proposed strict regulatory approach will result in the gains sought by the Government.

“During the development of our operative District Plan in the early 1990’s, we adopted the Significant Natural Area (SNA) concept which meant identifying and enforcing protection of indigenous vegetation.

“The move not only sparked protest and dissent but actually resulted in potential loss of biodiversity due to a loss of landowner goodwill – the exact opposite of what we were trying to achieve.”

In recent times, the Hurunui District Council has moved to methods other than rules for implementing poicies for biodiversity protection in Hurunui, including; consultation, advocacy, education, economic instruments, negotiation, covenants and contracts.

“The more collaborative and co-operative non-regulatory approach has strengthened voluntary biodiversity protection in the district.

“Having to enforce rules, as proposed, under the National Policy Statement will not only open old wounds, but undo much of the relationship building and good conservation work achieved to date.”

As well, Senior Policy Planner, Rachel McClung says the Council believes the approach being promoted in the draft document will place an unnecessary financial burden on rural authorities and landowners.

“Rural councils, such as Hurunui, have large land areas that contain much of the nation’s significant threatened indigenous biodiversity, but typically, a low population base to collect rates from. Therefore, without funding assistance from central government, the financial burden of protection will be inequitable and unaffordable.”

Hurunui has a land area of 864,640 thousand hectares of which 1,791 hectares of land is protected by QEII covenants, 38,310 hectares is in the District Plan as being a significant natural area (SNA), and 224,500 hectares is in Department of Conservation estate.

Mayor Dalley says the Council is also unhappy at the lack of consultation with local authorities prior to the notification of the document; given the significant implications it will have for them and their communities.

“There is currently no ability to speak to submissions. The Rt Hon. Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment has chosen not to allow hearings; instead the submissions will go to the Ministry for the Environment to consider and the final decision will be made by him.

“We are decidedly uncomfortable with the reduced participation process that is proposed, and if we cannot speak to our concerns at a hearing, we at least want an opportunity to review any changes to the draft before it is finalised.”

Council’s submission also highlights concerns relating to a lack of policy on management of weeds and pests given that these have been identified as two of the major threats to indigenous biodiversity in New Zealand.
The Council does not agree either with the fact the document will not address issues on public conservation land (i.e. Department of Conservation (DOC) land). It believes indigenous biodiversity should be managed in a co-ordinated manner that recognises it crosses property boundaries

ends

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