Parker part of environment protection rule court case

David Parker
David Parker
Environment Minister David Parker will take part in a Dunedin High Court case that could set the course for how local government puts rules in place to protect the environment.

A spokesman for the minister yesterday confirmed Mr Parker has joined the High Court proceedings between the Otago Regional Council and Forest & Bird set for a hearing in February next year.

The council says its regional policy statement is a "freshwater planning instrument" and is therefore suitable for a new, streamlined freshwater planning process introduced through changes to the Resource Management Act last year.

The council is looking for legal certainty for its novel approach after its position was challenged by Forest & Bird.

A regional policy statement contains guidelines that underpin regional rules, such as the council’s forthcoming land and water plan, which will set out how land and water are to be managed in Otago.

Forest & Bird said there were many provisions in a regional policy statement that had little to do with freshwater.

Putting the proposed regional policy statement through the new freshwater planning process risked a successful legal challenge by another party at the end of the process. That would mean new rules to improve the environment could be further delayed, it said.

The minister’s spokesman said the Ministry for the Environment had agreed to provide funding to both the council and the environmental organisation because they were seeking legal clarity.

The exact contribution would not be confirmed until after proceedings.

As a neutral party, the Environment Minister could take part in the court proceedings without taking a side on the matter.

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