Council responds to community petition
Friday 3 Feb 2023A petition calling for a stop to the ongoing environmental disaster in Tairāwhiti (East Coast of the North Island, New Zealand) following ex-tropical Cyclone Hale was presented at a Council meeting late last week with a total of 8,500 signatures. On Friday morning the petition had increased to almost 9000 signatures.
The petition calls for an independent inquiry into the regulations for land use in Tairāwhiti, prioritising a review of Council land use rules and, among other issues, requests the establishment of a ministerial group to support the development, implementation and monitoring of a regional Just Transition Plan for the region.
Mayor Rehette Stoltz says Council supports the concerns of the community and those who have signed the petition. “We want to acknowledge the financial as well as emotional impact log waste has on our whole community. As a community, we need to have discussions around how we will operate differently. We have heard your concerns and now we need to work alongside each other to leave a better legacy for our children and the community of Tairāwhiti.”
Mayor Stoltz says the petition highlighted several issues Council is already aware of regarding land use in the region. It’s a complex situation that needs support and commitment from across Tairāwhiti alongside central government in order to make the kind of transformational change that’s needed.”
“Regarding the establishment of an independent inquiry it will be essential to have Central government support and commitment as it’s unlikely Council will have the necessary regulatory levers and financial capacity to deliver on recommendations that might come from it” says Mayor Stoltz.
Council chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says there is also potential to establish greater controls on land use on steep, erosion-prone land. “This might entail restricting certain land uses (such as plantation forestry) on high-risk land or restricting how much of an area or catchment can be harvested within a set time period. We could also potentially require bonds or financial contributions for higher-risk land use activities. The details of all this would need to be worked through with Council and stakeholders.”
Ms Thatcher Swann says new approaches to land-use could also be explored through the development of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which will be required by the new Spatial Planning Bill currently being considered by Select Committee. Other organisations such as Federated Farmers, Eastland Wood Council and Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust have also backed the calls of the petition presented by Mana Taiao Tairāwhiti.
Source: Gisborne District Council
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