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Saturday
Mar152014

EDS District Plan Submission

Here is the full submission

Here is the presser that Gary Taylor put out to accompany it:

Media Release: EDS campaign to save the Coromandel Peninsula

The Environmental Defence Society has released a highly critical submission on the new Thames Coromandel District Plan and is calling for public support for its campaign for better protection for the Coromandel Peninsula.

“The plan is far too permissive and fails to provide enough protection for the coast, for indigenous biodiversity and for scenic values,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

 “The Coromandel Peninsula is a national treasure with its long, varied coastline, white sand beaches and forested hills. These all need to be carefully and sensitively managed so that the environment improves rather than deteriorates over time. This plan will determine the future direction of the area for the next 10-20 years. It is crucially important.

“Our analysis shows that the proposed plan lacks strategic focus and would lead to further poor quality development on the Peninsula’s outstanding coastline. This continues an unfortunate historical trend and we say enough is enough.

“The proposed district plan has pretty much ignored the earlier Coromandel Blueprint project that proposed limiting urban growth to 3 main settlements: Thames, Whitianga and Whangamata. Instead, it proposes weak policies and rules that effectively open the entire district to development.

“The Council has identified the extent of the coastal environment in the plan but there are few corresponding rules to protect it. This is unacceptable and contrary to the provisions of the Resource Management Act and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

“We argue in our submission that any development should be concentrated in areas already compromised and the balance of the rural and coastal areas protected.

“We are also concerned that the plan will lead to degradation of the Peninsula’s valuable biodiversity. The Council has failed to identify significant ecological areas and the proposed plan includes few provisions to protect existing biodiversity.

“It is time to implement an approach that ensures there is no net loss of biodiversity from the district.

“EDS is committed to putting a major effort into improving the plan. This will involve pursuing our submission through a lengthy hearings process and possible Environment Court appeals. We expect that our concerns will resonate broadly with local residents and ratepayers,” Mr Taylor concluded.

EDS is calling on the public to support its campaign to Save the Coromandel by making donations to the Coromandel Plan Project on the Society’s website www.eds.org.nz

That should put a line in the sand, and give the Hearings Commissioners something to think about. I have no doubt that the EDS will trot out its legal heavy hitters for the hearings, so the Commissioners will need to tread very carefully before they reject the submissions out of hand as I have no doubt they would prefer.

The make-up of the Panel, and its particular prejudices will now be more able to be clearly seen for what it is - heavily weighted to the right, and most likely to rubber-stamp the Plan as it has emerged from the Review Committee, with subsequent inputs from Council. It was interesting to note Commissioner Cr Goudie's sudden concern for the niceties of 'conflict of interest' at the last Council meeting, and remove herself from the room whenever there was a mention of the DP.

As if we don't know where she stands based on previous statements made during her political career - not much patience there for the views of the left and/or environmentalists. Those who sat on the Parliamentary Judicial Committee that she chaired know well her impatience with the slightest sniff of green, and those around our Council table will recall without difficulty her visits to Council to specifically oppose any funding being provided for Waikato environment organisations. Her deep seated antagonism towards anything of this nature was there for all to see. So don't expect any conversion on the road to Damascus on her part. My prediction is that she will hardly be able to restrain herself when facing the EDS representatives during the Hearings - watch in particular for the swing of the right leg - it is a dead giveawy. 

Overall, I have remained fairly neutral in the face of what I perceived to be a well rounded Report to and from the Review Committee - I was mainly concerned to see that the doors were not thrown open to developers, and in particular that coastal development policy was tightened up, but clearly there are moves in the Plan to open up further areas outside of the designated three areas of development - Whitianga, Whangamata and Thames that werethe hallmarks of the Peninsula Blueprint. 

Realistically, I believe that it will be as much as can be done to hold the line against the majority of Leach's support base that would prefer to see all restrictions removed - there will be plenty of submissions demanding that property rights are paramount over public. And Leach is seen by these elements as the Trojan horse for their interests. His appointment of Leigh Hopper to the EDC is the most blatant manifestation of this, and a clear indication of Leach's perception of inviolability.  

I fully admit that the environmental aspects are not my forte - I prefer to leave that to others who know what they are talking about. But I do have the greatest respect for Gary Taylor - I believe that is far more balanced in his approach than others of his ilk, and that his views demand attention. I will be doing that over the next few days as I read his Society's 49 page submission. It is likely to be the most comprehensive from that side of the fence, and worthy of serious consideration. There has been no written response as yet from the Watchdog Coromandel as far as I am aware -  I am happy to post it if one has been submitted.  

 

 

 

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