So what’s the process?

We are at the beginning of the process, gathering information on the natural areas of the district that are potentially significant.  The Council has contracted Kessels Ecology to undertake this work.  We are hoping that the initial research phase of the project will be finished by April/May of this year (Step 1). 

During May/June 2018 we are planning on talking with landowners about the information that has been collected (Step 2).  Landowners with potentially Significant Natural Areas on their properties will be invited to attend meetings in local areas at pre-arranged times.  At these meetings the values of the potentially Significant Natural Area can be discussed and it may be possible to amend maps and data.  In some cases follow up site visits will be required (Step 3).  

Later on in the year we will be considering how this information will be included within the District Plan (Step 4). It is too early to say what will / won’t be included in the District Plan.  The approaches adopted by other Councils include rules and/or incentives or a combination of both.  It is only once we understand the significance of the sites that we will be able to consider what approach is the most appropriate for inclusion in the Proposed District Plan (Step 5).  When the Proposed District Plan is notified there will be further opportunities to make submissions and talk to the Council (Step 6).  

What’s happening at the moment?

The first step is to work out where the potential Significant Natural Areas are, and why each area is important.  In order to get this understanding, an initial desktop study is being carried out.  This involves looking at aerial photographs and the ecological information that has been collected in the past, to assess the values and significance of each site.   

Part of the initial identification process involves further verification of some sites to determine the level of accuracy of the desktop study.  This work is planned to occur towards the end of March.  In some cases, the ecologists from Kessels may wish to visit a site or a number of sites on your property.  If this is the case, then a letter will be sent to you asking for your permission to allow access, and for a mutually convenient time to be arranged.  Remembering of course that this is only Step 1 of the process and there will be further opportunities for discussion.  (Refer to the information under the heading ‘So what’s the process’).

Further information:

If you would like any further information, or would like to talk to somebody at the Council about this work, then please email Fiona Hill at Fiona.Hill@waitomo.govt.nz, or phone the Council’s Freephone number 0800 932 4357 and ask to speak to Fiona.