Horizons’ proposed One Plan Where are we?
Barry Gilliland, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2013.
It is a long and difficult birth is my stock answer to the perennial question – At what stage is the proposed One Plan? The fact is that the situation is too complex to say much else.
The current position is that some of the provisions are with the Environment Court for approval and some parts of this Court’s earlier decision have been appealed to the High Court on points of law. What this means for forestry interests is that right now things are still in transition. The old plans and decisions version of the Proposed One Plan remain in force.
The proposed One Plan is inching closer to being finalised. Horizons has a multi-coloured version of the plan showing proposed amendments from Court-assisted mediation and Environment Court decisions since the decisions of the Council Hearing Panels were released in August 2010. Those for Forestry Rule 12-2 are highlighted in yellow. This means the amendments were agreed by everyone during mediation and await consent order sign-off by the Environment Court before they formally become part of the plan.
Tree Grower readers will be most interested in the forestry provisions. They will be a Permitted Activity if the consent order is signed-off without amendment by the Court. It is a Permitted Activity providing that all of the 17 standards are complied with. The activity standards relate to avoiding special habitats, using good harvesting practice and appropriately managing erosion and control of sediment. There is a lot of yellow highlighting on the coloured plan in the activity standards. This indicates the Environment Court is being asked to approve a significant number of changes from the decision of the Council Hearing Panel.
These changes were agreed during mediation, with forestry interests taking a major drafting role. It means that the standards should be workable for the industry. I understand that the forestry sector may be using it as a model in at least one other planning process.
While we wait for approval from the Environment Court, Horizons has been giving some thought to sensible and practical implementation of the forestry activity rule. The proposed approach is to help forestry operators interpret and understand the activity standards so they avoid compliance problems once the activities have started. Horizons land management officers will be pivotal to this and act as the first point of call for help and advice.
Horizons has also been developing an information sheet and a checklist to help forestry operators test and confirm their compliance with the Permitted Activity standards. These will be available at www.horizons.govt.nz once the provisions are finalised by the Court. In the meantime, Horizons land management officers are testing the guidance material and checklist as forestry operations arise to ensure they are fit for purpose. To contact these officers please phone 0508 800 800 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.
Barry Gilliland is a Policy Team Member at Horizons Regional Council based in Palmerston North