Identification and mapping of important areas

Maps are a valuable tool to identify resource management issues, locate them spatially and develop appropriate policy responses. Mapping also provides a useful mechanism to link scientific and other information with the policy-making environment, and can visually present sometimes complex information in a more accessible way. In addition maps can provide greater certainty, by clearly identifying where sensitive and important environments are located, and where certain forms of development are or are not appropriate. Rules and other plan provisions can then specifically apply to these areas.

The map preparation process should involve professional assessment of the data, robust peer review, and open and transparent consultation with affected landowners and resource users as well as the broader community.

Maps can be directly included as part of policy statements and plans or can be incorporated by reference (in terms of Part III of the First Schedule to the RMA). However, not all values will be able to be mapped, either because sufficient spatial information is not available, it is not appropriate to reveal their precise location, or the value concerned does not lend itself to two-dimensional spatial representation.

The NZCPS contains a number of policies which have a spatial component, and their implementation can therefore be assisted by the incorporation of maps into regional and district policy and planning documents. In particular, there is a strong direction on the need to assess and map the following:

  • The landward extent of the coastal environment, so it is clear where the provisions of the NZCPS 2010 apply within the region or district
  • Important areas for preserving and protecting natural character, 3256  natural features and natural landscapes 3257  of the coastal environment
  • Coastal resources, processes or values which require protection from adverse cumulative effects 3258
  • Areas of the coastal environment where particular activities and forms of subdivision, use and development are inappropriate 3259
  • Areas of the coastal environment where activities are to be provided for including urban development, aquaculture and the operation of ports 3260
  • Priority areas for restoration and rehabilitation, including areas important for indigenous flora and fauna, natural character and public access 3261
  • Areas where there are opportunities to improve the quality of coastal water and water bodies 3262
  • Areas which are potentially affected by coastal hazards over at least the next 100 years 3263

The RMA prohibited activity category can be used to clearly exclude activities which simply should not be allowed for in the most special parts of the coast.

Strategic planning

Policy 7 of the NZCPS 2010 indicates that councils need to set a clear strategic direction for the management of coastal development. A strategic approach to coastal planning involves articulating an overall vision of how the community would like to see their coast develop in the future and putting in place a strategic direction and mechanisms, in order to achieve that vision.

Such an approach enables the council to proactively identify areas where development is appropriate and other undeveloped or sensitive areas where development should be carefully managed or avoided entirely. It enables the cumulative impacts of development to be addressed more effectively than where management relies heavily on a case-by-case assessment of effects. In addition, a strategic direction can help to link the supply of coastal properties to demand.

This kind of planning requires a clear understanding of likely future development trends, the potential impacts of proposed development, and the sensitivity of different parts of the coastal environment to development. Such a strategic plan can identify the following:

  • The location and extent of the coastal environment
  • Those parts of the coast that are inappropriate for development
  • Those parts of the coast where opportunities exist for development and the nature of those opportunities
  • Those parts of the coast which need enhancement or regeneration

Some local authorities have recognised the need to develop a coastal management strategy which addresses local coastal development issues. These strategies have no statutory basis but they can provide a strategic framework to help guide and inform the development of provisions in statutory plans. 3264

A strategic plan might lead to a finer-scaled structure plan, where the key features of the strategy are developed in more detail at a localised level. To achieve their vision, key elements of strategic and structure plans will need to be incorporated into statutory documents such as the regional policy statement and district plan. In addition, where council financial resources are required to implement the strategy, these elements will need to be incorporated into the council’s Long Term and Annual Plans.

In recognition of the issues in their coastal areas, several councils have prepared coastal management strategies, including Whangarei District Council, Wairoa District Council, New Plymouth District Council and Hastings District Council.

Integrated planning

Under the RMA, management of the effects of coastal development can be jurisdictionally fragmented between territorial authorities and regional councils and spatially fragmented between planning for land and planning for the coastal marine area. In some areas, such as the Firth of Thames and the Kaipara Harbour, a single coastal system is split between two regional councils as well as multiple territorial authorities.

Some integration is promoted through the requirement under the RMA that regional and district plans give effect to the applicable regional policy statement, and that all these planning documents give effect to the NZCPS 2010. However, such integration tends to be at a broader level rather than at a detailed management level. Policy 4 of the NZCPS 2010 seeks to promote better integration of coastal management.

Integrated statutory plans under the RMA have been developed in some areas to address district and regional council responsibilities for land and marine areas. This enables more effective planning to address the range of issues generated by use of the coastal environment in an integrated manner. It also enables conflicting outcomes to be reconciled.

At the time of writing there are prospective reforms to the RMA which provide for a single plan to be prepared for each region which would incorporate the regional policy statement and regional and district plans. The proposal requires regional and district councils to develop their plans as they currently do and then insert their respective sections into a single plan or a “virtual” plan where all the elements of various plans relate to each other (such as for a particular property). This should result in all the statutory planning material relating to a particular region being located in one place, and so should make it easier for developers and members of the public to access it. It could also lead  to the better integration of planning itself, if the councils work together during the plan development stage.

Some examples of integrated planning include:

  • The Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan which is a combined plan addressing district and regional responsibilities for land, freshwater and the coastal marine area
  • The Canterbury Regional Coastal Environment Plan which provides for the integrated management of the coastal marine area, the active coastal zone and the land backdrop
  • The Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan which contains rules that regulate activities in the coastal marine area and also has objectives and policies that relate to natural character, public access and coastal hazards in the broader coastal environment. These provide guidance in the preparation of district plans and consideration of resource consent applications

Resource consenting

Resource consent conditions can be very effective at managing the effects of coastal development if they are robust, and are closely aligned to delivering the outcomes sought in the relevant planning document. For example, such conditions can be used, in conjunction with plan provisions, to:

  • Protect and restore sensitive areas
  • Keep buildings and structures off headlands, ridgelines and coastal cliffs
  • Ensure houses are designed to ‘fit’ into the coastal environment
  • Ensure use of non-reflective materials and colours
  • Ensure public access to and along the coast
  • Encourage coastal restoration
  1. Policy 13(1)(d) NZCPS

  2. Policy 15(d) NZCPS

  3. Policy 7(2) NZCPS

  4. Policy 7(1)(b) NZCPS

  5. Policies 7(1)(a), 8(a) and 9(b) NZCPS

  6. Policy 14(b) NZCPS

  7. Policy 21(a) NZCPS

  8. Policy 24(1) NZCPS

  9. Section 104(c) RMA

Last updated at 2:12PM on February 25, 2015