Forest & Bird 'representing nature' in Unitary Plan appeal

Forest & Bird is lodging an appeal in the high court over the Auckland Unitary Plan. Photo / File
Forest & Bird is lodging an appeal in the high court over the Auckland Unitary Plan. Photo / File

Forest & Bird are appealing three sections of the Auckland Unitary Plan [AUP] to the High Court.

The appeals are being lodged today and relate to how Significant Ecological Areas [SEAs] on land and in Auckland's marine areas are identified and the policies that will be used by the AUP to protect them.

Forest & Bird's lawyer Sally Gepp says one point of appeal concerns the council's decision to exclude important native habitats from protection, even if they meet the SEA criteria, if they are in locations that have been identified as suitable for quarrying or have "economic or strategic importance".

"In a similar vein, important areas of habitat in coastal and marine areas do not qualify as 'significant' and therefore receive little protection, if they are 'human modified'. This could exclude protection of important estuaries that are affected by sediment from upstream development, areas where any mangrove removal has occurred, and marine habitats where the seabed has been changed by fishing, particularly bottom trawling."

The organisation's lawyers have spent nearly 2000 hours over the past three years "representing nature" in the AUP process.

"At this stage of the Unitary Plan process, except in limited circumstances where the council did not follow a recommendation by the AUP panel, a High Court appeal is the only way that the council's decisions can now be disputed.

When contacted, Auckland Council said it was unable to comment on specific matters relating to appeals while they are subject to a judicial process.

- NZ Herald

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