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Regional Policy Statement Finalised For West Coast

After five years of consultation, compromise and conflict resolution, the West Coast finally has a new Regional Policy Statement (RPS) ready and waiting for the vote.

Regional councils must produce an RPS that promotes sustainable management of natural resources, gives an overview of resource issues in their region and sets out policies to deal with them.

The revised and updated West Coast RPS is up for approval at the regional council meeting next Tuesday -- the last one for outgoing chief executive Mike Meehan.

In contrast to the saga of the council's Land and Water Plan -- the policy document was hammered out without having to go to the Environment Court, Mr Meehan said.

"Parties like DOC, Ngai Tahu, Bathurst, Forest and Bird ... the district councils; they've all got around the table and talked about their differences and in the end ended up with something they could agree on."

Agreement did not happen overnight, however.

The council advertised the proposed RPS in March 2015, dealt with nearly 100 submissions, held hearings and began the mediation process later that year.

"It has been a huge amount of work to get everyone to agree, and what will be presented to council next week is the sum of what we worked out through those years of dialogue and consultation," Mr Meehan said.

Policy issues identified as significant ones for the West Coast included the expression of tino rangatiratanga for Ngai Tahu; the need to protect wahi tapu, restore the environment where it was damaged by development, and use natural resources to sustain the community.

Other issues were the risk of population decline on the Coast, and the ability of councils to use the RMA to support economic growth and employment in the region, while avoiding the adverse effects of development.

"It's one of those weird things where legally we are obliged to adopt the document -- but councillors still get to vote on it," Mr Meehan said.

The regional council CEO leaves at the end of July to take up a new position as head of the Greymouth-based Institute for Minerals to Materials Research.

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