The release of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan is a significant milestone in the sustainable management of our coastal marine area, says Environment Waikato Councillor, Lois Livingston.
The Plan, which becomes operative today, sets out how Environment Waikato carries out its resource management responsibilities in the Coastal Marine Area - including the foreshore and marine waters of all estuaries, harbours and the open coast in the Waikato Region from the high tide mark to twelve nautical miles offshore.
The Plan regulates where and how people can use the coastal marine area for things such as occupation, placing of structures, discharging, disturbing the foreshore and seabed, or removing material from the marine environment.
Today’s release of the Coastal Plan follows almost a decade of consultation, submission and appeals, which have involved wide public input into the shape of the final document.
“A lot of community involvement has gone into developing a well thought-out and workable plan that enables us to manage the environmental effects of recreational and economic uses of our Region’s coastal areas”, says Councillor Livingston, who is the chair of Environment Waikato’s Policy and Strategy Committee.
Cr Livingston says that on the whole, the release of the Regional Coastal Plan will mean business as usual for most users of the coastal marine area,
“People who use the coast and marine waters have had to comply with the Resource Management Act (RMA) since it was enacted in 1991,” says Councillor Livingston.
“The RMA allows for proposed plans to be used, so we’ve been using the Proposed Coastal Plan to make decisions on consent applications for some years. Therefore most users already have the permits they need. “
Cr Livingston says that the majority of existing coastal users are not likely to be affected by the Plan becoming operative.
“For example, everyday recreational uses of the coastal marine area that have minimal effects (such as walking along the beach) are not affected,” she says. “Furthermore fishing and seafood gathering are regulated under the Fisheries Act, not the Coastal Plan.”
However people using the coastal marine area who have relied on existing use rights before 1991, or approvals under previous legislation, may now require a resource consent. Anyone who is unsure of whether their use of resources in the coastal and marine environment is properly authorised should seek advice from Environment Waikato.
Some parts of the Coastal Plan relating to marine farming and marinas have been changed through publicly notified variations. These sections are still being finalised.
The Waikato Regional Coastal Plan can be viewed at any Environment Waikato office and can be downloaded from the Council’s website www.ew.govt.nz(external link)
For more information contact:
Coastal Policy Programme Manager
Ph (07) 859-0796