Extension for biodiversity discussion

The Hurunui District Council has been working on their District Plan review for last 18 months – a process that has included very high levels of community input.

“Through this pre-consultation phase, the community have told us that they want more input into how biodiversity should be managed” said Mayor Dalley. “In response to this feedback, the Council has agreed to extend the timeframes to enable one-to- one meetings with landowners that are affected by the new coastal environment and outstanding landscapes provisions.”

The Council has also agreed to initiate a collaborative approach bringing together representatives from all the entities that are involved in or have responsibility for biodiversity management to look for an alternative way to achieve biodiversity protection.

To enable this collaborative approach to get underway, the Council agreed to delay the notification of its District Plan review so as that the key stakeholders could develop a better way of managing biodiversity - while still meeting the requirements of Section 6 of the Resource Management Act.

“We do not believe that there are many land owners who disagree with the intent of the RMA - which is to protect and enhance biodiversity and indigenous vegetation” said Mayor Dalley. “In fact many people in our district take great pride and put huge effort and considerable funding into doing just that on their private property.

“However there are strongly differing views between land owners, the RMA and Regional Policy Statements as to the best way to achieve that protection. We are optimistic that this new process can find a solution.

“The Council recognises that there are new requirements relating to environmental issues now impacting on producers, including requirements for farm management plans and nutrient management, and Biodiversity will have an increasingly important role in achieving some of the outcomes of those plans. We agree with the farmers that have spoken to us, that we need to integrate, streamline and simplify the increasing requirements on farm management - rather than imposing yet another layer of compliance.

“Existing and new biodiversity and indigenous vegetation will become a very valuable asset to assist with the control of current nutrient losses and any losses from any increased land use intensification. By bringing together all the elements of nutrient management and biodiversity protection we may find the solution that we are seeking.”

The Council remains 100% committed to biodiversity protection and enhancement and sees opportunities for joint management with Environment Canterbury including funding and support for landowners.