Public to have say on coastal reserves

Members of the public have until mid-January to have their say on a new management plan for coastal reserves around Dunedin.

Dunedin City Council staff have identified 11 coastal reserves across the city - including at Brighton, Karitane, Long Beach, Ocean View, Waikouaiti and Warrington - to be reclassified under the council's draft coastal dune reserve management plan.

The change would result in the reserves' status being changed from recreational areas to local purpose (coastal protection) zones, providing new powers to protect the sensitive areas at the expense of some recreational rights.

Councillors at a recent meeting of the community development committee voted to approve the draft management plan, containing the reclass-ifications, for a two-month period of public consultation.

Depending on the number of submissions received, a public hearing could follow.

A report to the meeting by council reserves policy and planning officer Dolina Lee said the change aimed to protect and preserve the dunes while providing for recreation where possible.

Under the Reserves Act 1977, local authorities were required to classify the primary use of the reserves they owned.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times earlier this year, council community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said changes in the reserves' status recognised the importance of protecting the coastal environment from flooding, erosion and other threats.

"You can't recreate if the dunes disappear and you are inundated, so the primary driver for managing the reserves should be coastal protection," he said.

Consultation was the latest step in the development of the draft plan, stretching back to 2002.

Approval of the reclass-ifications was needed by the Department of Conservation, and a final approval of the changes would be made at a subsequent council meeting.

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