Mayor Encourages Landowners to Engage with Council on District Plan Review

The Council is winding up six months of extensive informal discussions with the landowners affected by biodiversity protection provisions as it reviews the Hurunui District Plan.

“We have had discussions with many of the landowners” and offered free ecological assessments to more accurately define significant natural areas”, said Environmental Services Manager, Judith Batchelor, “as well as having talks with the lobbyist group, the Hurunui SNA Group.”

Batchelor said that she has been really pleased by the general uptake to discuss the proposed plan provisions, but she was also more than a little concerned that there was still a small number of landowners, that are directly affected by proposed changes, who had chosen not to discuss the provisions with the Council.

“The Council absolutely respects the rights of landowners to choose not to engage with us” she said, “but I am extremely concerned that there has been some very strong lobbying and advice given on this subject, and that landowners might not fully understand that by choosing to withdraw from the discussion process, the consequences include a risk that they may be forced, through the legal process, to accept significant natural area boundaries that they currently have the opportunity to influence.”

Mayor Winton Dalley agreed “I encourage landowners that haven’t talked to us to make contact to discuss the issues. Time is running out for them to influence their personal outcomes prior to the legal process” he said.

“I think taking the time to work with landowners in the Coastal Environment has been a relatively successful story and I hope significant natural area landowners will take up the same opportunity to work with us”

The informal discussion phase will conclude in the next few weeks, and the Council expects to start the formal consultation process in June.

“At the start of the district plan review,” said Mayor Dalley, “my Council promised extensive consultation with the community ahead of the statutory process - which is still some months away; I am satisfied that we have honoured that.”