The future use of Northland's water, air, soil and coast is under the spotlight and the public's views on the issue will soon be heard.
Hearings to consider submissions on the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland will begin in late August and the panel's recommendations are expected to go to the council early in the New Year.
The new plan will cover a broad range of activities, including proposed rules for coastal works, earthworks, water use and discharges to air, land and water and is effectively an updated rulebook for the way the north's water, air, soil and coast are used and managed.
Northland Regional Council policy development manager Ben Lee said the comprehensive plan – one of the most important documents the council has consulted on for many years – will ultimately replace the council's three existing regional plans, which are now well over a decade old.
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He says the plan covers a broad range of activities, including proposed rules for coastal works, earthworks, water use and discharges to air, land and water.
"Among key proposed changes are new limits on taking water from rivers, lakes and aquifers, making it easier to get permission for mangrove removal and new stock exclusion rules for rivers, drains, wetlands and lakes."
Lee said the council carried out an extended 10-week consultation period on the Proposed Regional Plan late last year, attracting more than 360 submissions.
The three-member hearings panel will be Rob van Voorthuysen (chairman), Miria Pomare and regional councillor Joce Yeoman.
From August 28, four weeks of hearings – including expected appearances from more than 160 submitters – will be heard over seven weeks (essentially on a week-on, week-off basis) at Whangārei, Kerikeri, Kaitaia and Moerewa's Otiria Marae.
The full Proposed Regional Plan as it currently stands – and a series of staff recommendations in response to submissions – are available at www.nrc.govt.nz/newregionalplan.
Once the hearings are complete, the hearing panel will prepare its recommendations for council. It's expected the panel's recommendations will be presented to council early in the New Year.