Our advocacy work has resulted in a significant, positive outcome for sailing and boating.
Plan Change 4 (Northland)
Plan Change 4 was a proposed change to Northland Regional Council policy that will govern the establishment and management of aquaculture in Northland.
Before PC4 there were 19 sites identified in Northland (most of which were on the west coast) that were available to establish farms. The NRC proposed a new policy (PC4) that would make almost the whole coast available for people to apply to establish a marine farm (via invited private plan change then resource consent). The draft policy lowered the barriers to establishing marine farms and increased the risk to boaties.
Yachting New Zealand initiated an appeal to the Northland Regional Council's Plan Change 4 (relating to aquaculture), worried that marine farming could clog popular bays and hamper safe passage and cruising through the Northland region. The original plan did not take proper account of the need to consider and protect safe access to popular anchorages, harbour entrances, bays of refuge, navigational routes and areas commonly used for yacht racing. The appeal was supported by evidence from a number of well-known and respected boaties who have particular knowledge and experience of the Northland coast.
We were concerned because:
Northland is a very popular and important cruising destination
There are a lot of boaties, yachties and clubs that will be affected
PC4 will set a precedent that will guide other regional bodies in terms of this kind of policy
What was the outcome?
The Environment Court issued a final decision on Plan Change 4, which was signed by the minister and has been in effect since the May 2016.
Recreational boaties and yachties visiting the Northland region are assured of safe access to popular anchorages, harbour entrances, bays of refuge and navigational routes thanks to the collective advocacy efforts of Yachting New Zealand, the Auckland Yachting & Boating (AYBA) and Northland yachting associations.
We were very pleased that the appeal resulted in aquaculture being classified as a prohibited activity in a range of additional locations and the policy wording changed to reflect the importance of recreational use of the coastal marine area in Northland.
The Environment Court decision around Northland should have national reach as a result of explicit recognition by the court of recreational and navigational safety considerations, which will guide preparation of plans for other regions around New Zealand.