Part of district plan operative before others

Gretchen Robertson
Gretchen Robertson
The $4.2 million blueprint for Otago’s district plans will become partly operative in the new year.

The new regional policy statement will replace the Otago Regional Council’s previous 20-year-old document.

Notice will be given on Wednesday and it will become partially operative on January 14.

The council will not be able to  give effect to the entire document as it will likely not be finalised until late 2019 or later, because of continued appeals.

However, the council decided to give parts of it legal power early  to provide clarity as the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Dunedin City Council revise their district plans.

To date the process has cost $4.2 million.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said at a council meeting this week she took "great delight" in making the plan partially operative.

"The previous RPS is 20 years old and structured quite differently. We went out to the community and did a lot of good consultation work."

Unlike the previous plan, territorial authorities needed to give effect to the new document, which gave it "a a lot of teeth". Cr Trevor Kempton said he could see the influence of a wide range of interest groups in the document.

A major difference was the coastal environment of Otago getting a more specific reference, he said.

Council policy planning and resource management director Tanya Winter said district and city councils were already taking the new policy statement seriously when creating district plans. The plan was publicly notified in May 2015, submissions were considered, and changes were released in October 2016.

Most appeals were negotiated out of court except two, which were heard by the Environment Court earlier this year. They centred on  mining and indigenous biodiversity offsetting. The council said there was no indication of when the court decisions would be released.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said in the foreword to the document it was unique in structure compared with others in the country and  better suited to tackle changes to population growth, the state of water and climate change.

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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