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Coastal ratepayers welcome court order for changes to Kapiti District Plan

Press Release – Coastal Ratepayers United
Coastal Ratepayers United welcomes the Environment Court’s order to amend the Kapiti Coast District Plan (District Plan). On 20 June, the Environment Court ordered several amendments to the new and now operative District Plan to remedy a variety of errors.

Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU) chairperson Paul Dunmore said these amendments will significantly improve the District Plan.

“CRU sought these amendments through the Environment Court, after making extensive submissions at earlier stages in the process.

“A drafting error in the District Plan had meant that almost any activity in the coastal environment, where most of the population lives, would have required a Resource Management consent. Most residents of Kapiti would have needed to apply for permission even to plant a tree on their own property.

“Another amendment CRU requested was a change to the definition of the extent of the coastal environment, which needs special protection. The definition used by the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) in the District Plan was made far too complex. It would have been impossible for ordinary ratepayers to understand it unless they paid for expert advice. This has now been replaced by a clear map.

“The District Plan had not properly protected all dunes in the coastal environment, which is required by the NZ Coastal Policy Statement (2010).

“Public bodies such as Wellington Regional Council would have had to seek unnecessary consents, with ratepayers meeting the costs of both the Regional Council’s and KCDC’s sides of the processing.

“With the Court’s endorsement, these issues have been remedied with the agreement of KCDC, the Department of Conservation and the Regional Council.

“CRU is very pleased to have been able to help KCDC fix these errors at minimal cost to ratepayers.”

Mr Dunmore said CRU has been able to resolve a series of problems caused by KCDC over the past few years. These include:
• A High Court ruling that the coastal hazard information that KCDC had placed on property LIMs was insufficiently reliable for that purpose. KCDC revised the wording.
• An expert scientific panel appointed at CRU’s request concluded that the coastal hazard lines in the proposed district plan should not be used for that purpose. KCDC withdrew the coastal hazard provisions from the current District Plan.
• CRU obtained a declaration from the Environment Court that the withdrawal of coastal hazard provisions from the District Plan was done in a way that changed the meaning of other parts of the plan, which is unlawful. KCDC subsequently made further changes to the District Plan to correct the errors.

“With its successful appeal to the Environment Court, CRU has now made it possible to remedy several serious errors in the approved and now operative District Plan.”

“These errors by Council relate back to 2012 when KCDC notified the Proposed District Plan without undertaking the promised community consultation on their draft.”

Mr Dunmore said KCDC is now discussing with CRU the process for developing the required coastal hazard provisions of the District Plan.

“CRU looks forward to that process and hopes that it begins soon, as it is now seriously overdue.”

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