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District Plan offers not enough protection for people or the environment
Taranaki Energy Watch,
Media release: District Plan offers not enough protection for people or the environment
Taranaki Energy Watch and Climate Justice Taranaki
The proposed South Taranaki District Plan offers not enough protection for people or the environment from hazardous industries like oil and gas particularly in the rural communities says local environmental watchdogs.
“There continues to be ongoing concerns with the rules for oil and gas. While setbacks will be considered on a case-by-case basis for new petroleum exploration and production activities, these only need to be managed so they do not pose significant residual risks to people, property and the environment. They should not be causing any risk to others. This is a dangerous industry with the potential to cause fatalities, injuries and damage to properties outside of their boundaries” says Sarah Roberts, spokesperson for Taranaki Energy Watch.
“Setback distances for health and safety reasons proposed to existing facilities such as Kapuni have been removed. The only protection for people wanting to develop their properties near these facilities is noise insulation even though it is recognized there are potential serious adverse effects from hazardous substances beyond the boundaries of these facilities”.
“Seismic surveys using explosives continue to be allowed in the rural areas without resource consent even though there have been several cases where undetonated explosives have been left in the ground requiring ongoing monitoring as a result” says Ms Roberts.
“In terms of landfarming oil and gas waste Climate Justice Taranaki (CJT) has argued strongly against it, especially in the coastal environment. Yet Council has decided not to exclude these waste disposal facilities (including landfarming) from the Coastal Protection Area or any Outstanding Natural Feature/Landscape area, despite previously acknowledging severe land degradation from this activity,” says Catherine Cheung of CJT.
“Clearance and damage to indigenous vegetation is also possible within the Coastal Protection Area. The National Coastal Policy Statement requires councils to restore and rehabilitate degraded coastal environments. However Council will allow further degradation, at a time when coastal hazards are escalating as a result of climate change and sea level rise.
“The Environment Minister has just ruled out compensation packages for homeowners affected by climate change. Who will bail them out when the coastline continues to degrade and eventually gives way to storm surge and erosion?” asked Chung.
Both groups are considering appealing the district plan.
South Taranaki District Plan Version 2016
The South Taranaki District Council has reviewed its District Plan (2004) and produced a new District Plan. This is something Councils are required to do every 10 years to make sure it reflects current issues affecting the District.
The District Plan controls the way land is used, developed, protected and subdivided in South Taranaki.
The process started in December 2014 with a review of the current District Plan as it relates to resource management issues in the district. The outcome of the review was a Proposed District Plan that was released for submissions in August 2015 and for Further Submissions in January 2016. The Council’s Proposed District Plan Hearings Panel has carefully considered the matters raised in the submissions and has heard from many of the submitters. These matters have shaped the decisions that are now being released.
There are several differences between the new Plan and the 2004 Plan. Some of the key ones are summarised briefly below;
Providing for higher density housing near Hawera’s Central Business District;
The creation of a new Township Zone for the district’s small towns;
Introduction of a minimum lot size and minimum balance area for rural subdivision;
- Two new Rural-Industrial Zones;
- New simplified provisions for controlling Hazardous Substances;
- Specific provisions to incentivize renewable energy generation activities;
- New provisions to manage indigenous vegetation removal in wetlands, some new Significant Natural Areas and a smaller maximum area for indigenous forest removal;
- The Coastal Protection Area has been redefined based on a Natural Character Assessment and the list of activities controlled has been refined;
- New areas of Outstanding Natural Character, Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Outstanding Natural Features have been identified;
- A Waitotara Flood Hazard Area to ensure development in flood-prone areas is safe;
- Specific provisions for short-term events that happen infrequently.
The Proposed District Plan Hearings Panel’s decisions will be notified in the Taranaki Daily News on Saturday 5 November 2016 and directly to submitters. Once the decisions have been notified, the new provisions will come into force.
Anybody who made a submission or a further submission can appeal the decisions to the Environment Court within 30 working days of notification of the decisions. For more detail about the proposed changes please either see the Council’s website (www.southtaranaki.com), call the Planning Team on 0800 111 323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.