Regional council reviews coastal plan

A new regional Coastal Environment Plan is being developed as the Bay of Plenty Regional Council reviews its existing plan.

The plan outlines rules, policies and objectives to protect the region’s coastal marine area and includes policies for land along the coast, including sand dunes and coastal wetlands.

Strategic Development group manager Fiona McTavish says council are working with iwi and hapu across the region and has also consulted with other councils, community groups and stakeholders in developing the plan.

“The parts that are working well include protecting high-value ecological sites in the coastal marine area (from mean high water springs out to sea), and identifying areas sensitive to coastal hazards.”

All the region’s territorial authorities have either completed or made significant progress toward including district specific coastal hazard policies and rules in their plans.

She says there is room for improvement in several areas.

“We have concerns about water quality in some of our estuaries and harbours. The community is still worried about the effects of vehicle and horse access to sensitive areas, along with the incremental loss and degradation of dune lands, wetlands and coastal forest.

“Some of the work being done to repair this damage is not ecologically appropriate.”

Fiona says the consultation also identified some community concerns that were not addressed adequately in the current plan, including managing mangroves and aquaculture activities.

She says iwi and hapu felt they were not able to exercise kaitiakitanga or guardianship of coastal areas, or effectively participate in decision-making.

“Iwi felt cultural values were given insufficient weight, and matauranga Maori or knowledge about the coast was not recognised by decision-makers.

“We’ll be talking to tangata whenua, stakeholders and the community to develop a draft version of the new Plan by the end of this year.”