Farm owners fearful of coastal mapping
Some Far North residents are worried that mapping by the Northland Regional Council might be setting the groundwork for changing rules, even perhaps rates, on their properties.
Richard Adams who has a farm along Wainui Rd in the Whangaroa Harbour area, says that during the informal consultation phase of the project he and his neighbours met with a consultant dispatched by the regional council to dispute whether their properties fall within the new coastal area.
He says the landowners were left with an understanding that a mistake had been made during the draft mapping, but the proposed maps issued earlier this month did not reflect that meeting.
"The revised map is more bizarre than the first one," Mr Adams says.
"To compound all of this no one will tell us what is going to happen to our rates if we do nothing. And what these rules are that will be imposed on us once this regional planning map has been finalised," he says.
The coastal environment, for the purpose of the New Zealand coastal policy statement, has never been defined in Northland before.
Roughly 23,000 Northland landowners were contacted in mid-October by the regional council because their properties have been determined to be within the coastal area.
The first formal stage of public consultation closes on December 3.
The coastal environment includes the coastal marine area, islands in the coastal marine area, areas where coastal processes influence the environment, areas at risk from coastal hazards, coastal vegetation, and habitat for coastal species including coastal migratory birds.
Council representative Jonathan Gibbard says: "We haven't followed property boundaries, we haven't been able to follow road lines, we've had to use this criteria and it has cut across people's properties."
Mr Gibbard says the meeting with Mr Adams did change the maps.
"The New Zealand coastal policy statement basically encourages development where there's already development, so around your coastal communities where you've got built up areas and areas that have already got human modification they try to encourage future development along those areas," Mr Gibbard explains.
"Where you've got an open coastal peninsula where you've got no human modification, no structures, no houses, no buildings - it requires us to identify the outstanding landscapes, your outstanding natural character - and it tries to protect the values that make it outstanding."
Mr Adams has been in touch with both the regional council and the district council and he says he's been given no clarity, nor certainty about what the line through his property will do to the rules surrounding the use of his property, and he has had no information about how it will affect his rates.
He says he fears that many will not react to the proposed policy before it's too late for changes.