Conservation balanced with growth

By Matthew Martin


The Daily Post council and city issues reporter Matthew Martin takes a close look at some of the plan's important features in a series of articles.

The Rotorua District has more than its fair share of natural wonders and the new District Plan looks to find a balance between development and protection.

The Rotorua District Council's planning services manager Liam Dagg said the district was home to many outstanding natural features and landscapes, including volcanic plateaus and calderas, geothermal features and indigenous ecosystems that contribute to spectacular views and recreational opportunities.

"While development and economic growth are priorities, they must be balanced with the maintenance and enhancement of the natural environment that makes our district an attractive place to live, work and play.

"Our district plan provides a framework to ensure important landscape elements are considered alongside development proposals."

However, the volcanic landscape presents opportunities but also risks that need to be factored into land use decisions, Mr Dagg said.

"Our district has learned to safely take advantage of natural hazards.

"The oldest settlements in our district are within active geothermal areas where surface and underground features present a potential hazard to building and living. Fault lines and soft soils represent a risk to ground stability in the event of earthquakes," he said.

"High intensity rainfall can lead to short-term, localised flooding. The district plan takes a practical approach to assessing and addressing these risks and balancing them with development."

Department of Conservation Resource Management Act planner Chris Staite said the council still had some work to do identifying about 50 significant sites around the district.

"This is an important time for people to tell the council about it, or if anything has changed since the last district plan.

"The department sees the importance in having all the significant sites in the district covered by the new plan.

"The big thing is the council's change to protect ethnic biodiversity for significant sites on an individual basis, rather than in the old plan under a rule on how much indigenous vegetation you can remove in one year," he said.

To view the proposed plan visit rdc.govt.nz, the council's customer centre or the library.


Submissions can be made at the council's website, emailed to planenquiry@rdc.govt.nz, or posted to the Planning Services Manager, RDC, Private Bag 3029, Rotorua. Submissions close on March 1.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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