Quick Facts about the Proposed Natural Resources Plan
Development of the proposed Plan
Developed through a partnership with mana whenua– the proposed Plan recognises the relationship that Māori with ancestral claims to the region (mana whenua) have with the region’s natural and physical resources. Special effort has been made to identify the values and sites of significance to mana whenua as well as provisions to recognise and protect these special places.
Five principles have guided the review by Te Upoko Taiao – Natural Resource Management Committee (WRC’s decision-making body of 7 mana whenua and 7 elected council members):
Developed with others– the proposed Plan was developed based on input and contributions from a wide range of parties, including iwi, industry, environmental organisations, communities, other agencies and local councils.
Developed with new information– the proposed Plan improves on the current plans, in part because a larger base of information and analysis was available. This includes information and analysis collected on good management practices, community values, historic heritage, sites of significance, management efficiency and effectiveness and natural hazards.
Gives effect to most recent legislation (including New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management 2014, National Environmental Standards for Drinking Water and Air Quality) and recognises current policy (including the 2013 Regional Policy Statement), guidance and industry standards.
Structure of proposed Plan
Integrated objectives and policies – the proposed Plan will replace the five regional plans that currently have separate objectives and policies for managing the coast, soil, discharges to land, fresh water and air. This not only creates a document that is easier to use, it also reduces inconsistencies (such as those among the five current regional plans) and enables more integrated management between land and water and between fresh water and coastal water.
Clearly written – the proposed Plan contains concise definitions and clearly written provisions. In contrast to the current regional plan, the provisions stand on their own and are not followed by the use of explanatory text, which in the past has led to confusion and misinterpretation.
Catchment-specific chapters – catchment-specific, known as “whaitua”, chapters contain provisions that will be amended through variation and plan changes, and will assist in implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
Greater emphasis on “place-based” protection – the proposed Plan contains extensive schedules and maps that identify sites that are significant for natural, cultural, social or physical values. Provisions in the proposed Plan are used to manage these places so that they are protected (and enhanced).
On-line maps– to support the provisions and schedules, the proposed Plan uses indicative maps that are linked to GIS mapping, which offer more detail and can be zoomed into the individual property scale. Identified sites of significance have been mapped and are linked to their associated schedule.
Allocation of freshwater– the proposed Plan uses current information that recognises the connections between groundwater and surface water and manages activities that take, use, dam or divert freshwater as one resource.
Water quality – the proposed Plan objective is to maintain water quality or improve it where it does not meet the expectations of the community or of statute. An integrated package of regulatory and non-regulatory methods achieve this, including by expanding existing programmes such as farm environment planning, and by introducing investigations to better establish poor water quality in identified areas.
Discharges to land – the proposed Plan identifies and manages discharges to land within drinking water catchments, as required by the National Environmental Standard for Drinking Water.
Stormwater – the proposed Plan recognises that the discharge of stormwater can result in unacceptable effects on water quality and the health of rivers, streams, lakes and the coast. Provisions require most stormwater discharges from the large networks owned by local authorities to be improved over time through a two-stage consent process that also links to the water quality limits to be set through each whaitua process.
Livestock access – the proposed Plan has clear direction on how surface water bodies are to be protected from livestock access.
Biodiversity– the proposed Plan identifies sites of significance for indigenous biodiversity in the schedules and maps. Proposals for mitigation and biodiversity offsets will be assessed against defined and scheduled best practice.
Wetland protection – the proposed Plan has specific provisions for the protection and management of all wetlands in the region.
Looking after the coast
Surf breaks – the proposed Plan lists and maps the locations of over 60 surf breaks that are regionally significant, and a policy framework has been developed to manage the adverse effects of use and development on these surf breaks.
Coast and regionally significant infrastructure – Protects coastal areas from reclamation, while providing for the recognition of regionally significant infrastructure.
Air quality – Prevents the burning of toxic materials open fires and wood burners – to clean up our air quality
Hazard management – The proposed Plan guides the development of a Regional Natural Hazard Strategy in partnership with Territorial Authorities.