The Far North District Council has dumped Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) from its Proposed District Plan when it is notified.
The council’s Strategy and Policy Committee voted to continue developing the content for the draft District Plan, but to remove SNA maps already developed by ecologists from the document.
Committee chair, councillor Rachel Smith says the decision endorses an undertaking Mayor Carter made in June to ‘pause’ the mapping of SNAs, following community protests over property rights that culminated in a large protest march to the council’s Kaikohe headquarters.
Smith says the decision to pause SNA mapping, supported by the Government, did not relieve the council of its statutory obligations under the RMA, the Coastal Policy Statement 2010, and the Regional Policy Statement for Northland 2016 to protect significant species and habitats.
“Our decision provides a clear way forward for our draft District Plan, while acknowledging more direction is needed from Central Government on how to support landowners to protect significant species and habitats.
“Ignoring clear public feedback on SNAs was not an option and the committee was uncomfortable with aspects of the other options.
“In the end, we opted for a simple approach. We will continue vital work on the draft District Plan. However, we will delay any decisions about how to give effect to higher planning rules until we have greater clarity about our options.”
The Council has worked on a draft District Plan since 2016 and a Proposed District Plan is due to be publicly notified in December, allowing for formal submissions from the public.