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Home arrow Articles by Topic arrow Environmental Planning arrow Drawing a line in the sand
Drawing a line in the sand PDF Print
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Articles - Environmental Planning
Written by Geoff Cummings, The New Zealand Herald   
Monday, 23 July 2007

The Storeys' house at Te Henga, now halted in its tracks, would, according to its detractors, dominate the walkway skyline if allowed to go ahead. Photo / Greg Bowker

...The RMA makes preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment - and its protection from inappropriate subdivision - a national priority. But it is also permissive, allowing "sustainable development" and treating proposals case-by-case.

The cumulative effects threaten a defining national attribute: baches replaced by mansions, beach settlements becoming suburbs; dunes lined with cul-de-sacs, once green headlands bedecked with houses.

"If you want to come up with a proposal you can run it through the system and things which people think should never fly do fly," says Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor.

The Government stepped in last month to prevent further subdivision on Crown land surrounding several South Island lakes (lakesides are treated as coast under the Resource Management Act).

The lakeside land was vulnerable under the tenure review process, which allows Crown pastoral leaseholders to negotiate freehold title to parts of their property if they transfer other parts to the Department of Conservation.

Other, bigger, battlefields include Ngunguru, east of Whangarei, where developers Landco want to build a 350-lot subdivision on a pristine estuary sandspit.

The Government plans to exclude from the process about 40 properties, covering 200,000ha, bordering lakes that include Tekapo, Wanaka and Wakatipu, upsetting farmers paying high rents on land with stunning views. But as the owner of nearly 2 million hectares of high country land, the Government can vary the rules to suit itself, whereas much of the coastline is privately owned.

The Government's ability to influence coastal development depends on the RMA - and the way the act is interpreted by local councils, who tend to encourage schemes that expand their rating base.

Full story...

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