It’s important that our region’s environmental resources are protected for people now, and into the future. We’ve created Healthy Environments | He Taiao Mauriora, a project that will review the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and the Waikato Regional Plan.
These plans set out objectives, policies and rules that the Regional Council will use to manage natural resources, including air, land, fresh water and coastal. Healthy Environments | He Taiao Mauriora has kicked off for the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan review, and shortly the review of the Waikato Regional Plan will also kick off. We intend to begin talking with key groups to seek feedback towards the end of 2018 about coastal and a few other issues. Feedback and information collected will help us revise plan topics for public notification which is expected to happen in the first part of 2020. This is when you can make a submission on the proposed changes.
Ultimately, the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and Waikato Regional Plan will be combined and will be renamed the Waikato Resource Management Plan. We intend to have a fully approved and operative plan by 2028. We're not starting from scratch, we'll be looking at the two plans we already have, and considering scientific and other data, as well as feedback we've received over the years on ways the plans could be improved. Therefore the basis of this review is to address the following issues:
The review is being broken into two main phases. Phase one mostly looks at issues from the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan, while phase two focuses on the existing Waikato Regional Plan. At the same time council is undertaking a plan change to address water quality in the Waikato/Waipā catchments (Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora – Plan Change One), and will be progressing a water quality plan change for the Waihou-Piako and Coromandel Catchments Plan Change.
We will also need to align the plan review with Government’s proposed National Planning Standards, which will have some mandatory requirements for our Resource Management plans. The National Planning Standards are expected to come into force in 2019. As part of this, we are looking to roll out a new online “eplan” in the second half of 2019.
The Government is also developing National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards. As these are mandatory documents, council will need to incorporate any changes required through this national direction into the plan review.
Government has also signalled further changes to the Resource Management Act that may affect the plan review.
For further information on Governments package of National Direction, click here(external link).
We are aiming to set up a Healthy Environments | He Taiao Mauriora Plan Review Committee, to comprise of six iwi group representatives and six councillors to in early 2019. Plan review matters affecting Taupō Waters will be considered separately by the Tuwharetoa-Waikato regional Council co-governance committee. The full Council will make final approvals on any plan changes for notification.
We are still in the early stages of our review of the coastal plan and the regional plan. Resource management issues and options are being identified for all policy topics. Our main focus so far has been on the region’s coastal marine area and Lake Taupō waters, as well as fresh water in the Waikato and Waipā catchments covered by proposed Plan Change One.