Minister welcomes Canterbury resources plan

  • Nick Smith
Economic Development Environment

The completion of the Natural Resources Regional Plan and the successful resolution of all appeals a year after Commissioners were appointed is a major step forward for Canterbury, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.

“The lack of this plan over the past 20 years since the Resource Management Act was passed has seen important resource decisions in Canterbury being made in a vacuum. It was this lack of progress and the advice that it would take until at least 2014 to complete the plan that was a major reason for the Government’s intervention in Environment Canterbury in 2010,” Dr Smith said.

The Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan covers policy and rules on water quality, water quantity, the beds and margins of lakes and rivers, wetlands, groundwater and soil conservation. It was first notified in 2004 and hearings were held between 2006 and 2009. Environment Canterbury Commissioners decided on the plan in October 2010 but only resolved the six High Court appeals this month. The plan will be operative from 11 June.

“The completion of this plan involved different trade-offs between the environment and development and the previous council was so split it could not make timely decisions. The Government’s special legislation that removed Environment Court appeals has also contributed to the plan being completed,” Dr Smith said.

“This completed plan is not perfect and will need refinement in response to the work of the important zone committees as part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. However, an imperfect plan is far better than no plan.

“The Environment Canterbury Commissioners have done a superb job in getting this plan completed so quickly. I am particularly grateful to Commissioner and former Environment Court Judge Peter Skelton who has led this work. I also wish to acknowledge the years of work put in by the hearings panels and Environment Canterbury staff.

“It is now more important than ever in the wake of Canterbury’s devastating earthquakes that we have this sound natural resource plan in place. It will help in Canterbury’s economic recovery by giving greater certainty over the rules for sustainably developing the region’s natural resources.”