Northlanders will soon be able to make a formal submission on the region’s most significant planning document - the Proposed Regional Policy Statement - which sets out how our natural and physical resources are managed.
The Proposed Regional Policy Statement for Northland (RPS) has been more than two-and-a-half-years in the making and was formally approved for release yesterday (subs: Monday 24 Sept).
It represents a vast amount of effort by regional council staff working closely with a joint seven-member committee of regional councillors, the Deputy Mayors of the Far North and Kaipara Districts and a senior Whangarei District Councillor.
The end result of that work - a 164 page proposed policy plus more than 1200 pages of supporting documentation and maps - will officially open for public submissions for two months from October.
Under the Resource Management Act, the RPS must identify the significant resource management issues for Northland and set out how the community will manage resources such as land, water, soil, minerals, plants, animals and structures.
Chairman of the Regional Policy Committee, Kaitaia-based regional councillor Ian Walker, says the document’s release for public submissions is a major step towards improving our region and reflects a real shift in the way we think about and manage our resources.
"It’s a much more integrated approach than what we’ve had before - balancing things like having well-connected communities and enabling our economy while maintaining a healthy environment and minimising risks in hazard-prone areas."
"The ability for tangata whenua to be involved in resource management is also reflected much more clearly in this document than its predecessor," Cr Walker says.
The Proposed Regional Policy Statement doesn’t set rules itself, but it does filter down into district and regional plans which contain the rules around how people, businesses and industry use Northland’s resources.
"It may be a high-level planning document, but it’ll very much impact on what we do every day, and it will help ensure that future generations can enjoy a quality of life that’s similar to, or better than, what we have now."
Councillor Walker says the Proposed Regional Policy Statement includes maps of Northland’s outstanding areas and coastal land, which have been refined after feedback was sought from newly-affected landowners earlier this year.
"It’s a legal requirement for councils to identify and protect these areas, and we’ve opted for a regionally consistent approach that should provide better certainty and reduced costs in the long-run - for landowners, developers and council decision-makers."
Councillor Walker paid tribute to politicians from across all four Northland councils who had played a key role in the Proposed RPS’s development.
He says the committee had strived for an open and collaborative process throughout, and that feedback from a wide range of people and organisations along the way had helped shaped what the Proposed RPS is today.
"Now it’s time for people to have their say - whether they think we’ve got it right, or they want to see changes; we want people’s feedback."
Submissions on the Proposed RPS open at the start of next month (subs: October) and close at 5pm Monday 3 December 2012.
From Monday 01 October, the Proposed RPS and supporting documents will be available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/newRPS or as hard copies at regional council offices and at public libraries.
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