Hutt City Council is in the initial stages of strengthening protections for the city’s valuable native plant and animal habitats and its important inland and coastal landscapes and natural features.
In recent months, Council staff, ecologists and landscape specialists have completed the first phase of identifying these important areas. Council now wants to discuss its findings with affected landowners and the public and get their ideas on how best to protect and manage this natural heritage for future generations.
These discussions will help in the development of a framework within the District Plan, and likely to include rules and restrictions, that will improve current protections of significant habitats, valuable landscapes and natural features.
Currently, there are only limited provisions in the District Plan to safeguard these valuable areas on private land, leaving them inadequately protected.
Council has an obligation under the Resource Management Act and related national and regional policy statements to identify and protect valuable natural areas. These range from significant ecological sites, home to native plant and animal species, through to important natural landscapes and features, coastal environments and highly-valued landscapes modified by human activity.
Hutt City Council General Manager City Transformation, Kim Kelly, says the protection of these areas is also a moral obligation to current and future residents, one that also makes good social and economic sense.
“Despite more than a century of development, we still have numerous ecologically important areas, outstanding natural landscapes and 46 kilometres of dramatic, beautiful coastline running from Petone to Turakirae Head,” she says.
“These natural features are central to Lower Hutt’s quality of life and are important reasons people choose to live in and visit Lower Hutt – they are part of the essence of the life of this city and they need protection.”
Council has contacted potentially affected property owners to talk about the sites identified on their properties. Council is also interested in discussing the most appropriate ways to protect and manage identified areas of natural significance with property owners and interested members of the public.