I have just sent away my Submission to Parliament’s Select Committee on the ludicrous Thames Coromandel District Council Local Bill in which they seek the unprecedented power to rip out mangroves anywhere they like without a resource consent.
You can make a submission here – please do so. Submissions close on 23 February.
Forest and Bird have a submission form here
I suspect the Select Committee does not want to hear argument for and against mangroves. But they will be making a recommendation to Parliament as to whether the existing law under the RMA is sufficient to deal with these issues. In other words, talk about the process, rather than the merits of mangrove removal or retention.
the main points I made it are –
if this Bill were passed it will allow the councils to ignore
- an international treaty – Ramsar,
- the highest level planning law – the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,
- the RMA and every other law that applies to the coastal environment, and even their own District Plan
it would set a totally unworkable precedent. If passed many other councils in the country will be rushing out a local Bill to advance their particular pet project and circumvent the RMA. The result – utter chaos.
the existing laws are actually working fine. Consents have been granted for removal of mangroves under the RMA in the Whangamata harbour and elsewhere
the so-called “community concern” about mangroves is overstated. Since the January 5 storm surge and Thames flooding, people have come to realise that mangroves provide a highly effective buffer against storm surges and sea-level rise, and are wanting the mangroves retained
the Council has shown its bias on the issue and cannot be trusted to independently assess these issues
there would be no appeal rights – the Council is setting up a kangaroo court as judge and jury
the Bill is simplistic — it deals with the effect but not the cause of mangrove expansion
the issues are highly complex – the councils do not have the resources or technical expertise to properly assess these issues
The Select Committee should recommend to Parliament that the Bill be ditched and not proceed any further.
An interesting article on the Bill on the Newsroom website. It is extraordinary the lengths the TCDC have gone to prevent Forest and Bird Society getting access under the Official Information Act to its internal correspondence and legal advice about this Bill. More here