The Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan decision document was released during a special ceremony at Omaka Marae this morning, marking the culmination of over two years’ work by the hearings panel, submitters and Council staff.
The plan brings three of the region's major management plans, the Marlborough Regional Policy Statement, the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan and the Wairau-Awatere Resource Management Plan, into a single document and sets out the rules around appropriate activities in Marlborough's urban, rural and coastal environments.
More than 1300 submissions were made on the plan, covering more than 17,000 individual submission points in support of, or in opposition to, the notified provisions. Hearings for the plan started in November 2017 at Omaka Marae and finished in April last year. During that time the Hearings Panel heard evidence on 22 topics and submitters made 386 appearances over 54 days of hearings.
Mayor John Leggett said the plan's release today is a milestone for Marlborough.
“This is the first fully integrated resource management plan produced by a council to emerge intact. It’s a first for New Zealand and an achievement that shows our region as a leader in environmental planning,” Mayor Leggett said.
“In a single plan we have defined how our natural and physical resources – the air, fresh water and coastal waters, the productive land and the natural ecosystems – will be sustainably managed by the Council in partnership with iwi, the community and central government. A single resource management plan will also make it easier for the community to navigate the RMA,” he said.
In receiving the Panel’s decision, Mayor Leggett acknowledged it is also now the Council’s Plan.
“The decision-making role was delegated to the Panel on the Council’s behalf. Council now takes ownership of the decision and the reasons for those decisions,” he said.
Hearings Panel Chairperson, Trevor Hook, referred to the plan as “Marlborough’s masterplan; the blueprint, the grand design for our region.”
In speaking at Omaka Marae he acknowledged the submitters and their experts for entering into this discussion with a positive and constructive attitude. He also thanked lay submitters who were willing to appear over the course of the hearing.
“For some submitters, not used to such processes, that was a big deal. The information they provided from a personal perspective, and often from their own individual experience, was invaluable,” he said.
Mr Hook also thanked his fellow Panel members for their patience and professionalism.
“The benefit of the legal brains of Shonagh Kenerdine and Ron Crosby has been incalculable and the wise and knowledgeable Rawiri Faulkner has helped to deftly guide us on Māori cultural issues, but also so much more.
“I also acknowledge the diligent approach of my fellow councillors David Oddie and Jamie Arbuckle – and Councillor Laressa Shenfield for the contribution she made until she relocated to Australia. They ensured the views and values of our local community were reflected in the decision-making,” he said.
The decision document is now subject to an appeal process. Submitters may appeal the decisions to the Environment Court by Friday 3 April 2020.
Copies of the decisions document can also be viewed at Council’s Blenheim and Picton offices, and at the Blenheim and Picton libraries.