Natural environment and the district plan
The Resource Management Act (RMA) and the Wellington Regional Policy Statement make councils responsible for areas of significant native vegetation and habitat, landscapes and natural features, and the natural character of the coastline.
These need to be conserved, enhanced and protected for the future as a matter of “national importance”, while also ensuring access, where appropriate, and taking account of social and economic wellbeing.
Biodiversity means the variety of plant and animal life in any particular area. Nationally, our native biodiversity is declining. While we have large areas of regenerating indigenous habitat in Lower Hutt, they contain some rare and endangered species. Most of these areas are on public land, but some are on private property.
Council acknowledges landowners and community groups are doing some impressive work protecting and enhancing biodiversity in the city.
But council must follow the rules and policies on protecting biodiversity within the RMA and Wellington Regional Policy Statement. The National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which will be finalised later in the year, is expected to require councils to identify areas of indigenous vegetation and introduce new provisions to protect them.
Natural character, natural features and landscape
Lower Hutt’s distinctive landscapes reflect our city’s history and contribute to our sense of place and identity. Māori narratives also tell us that our landscapes hold great significance to mana whenua, and are part of the broader Lower Hutt story.
Lower Hutt’s south coast, Matiu/Somes Island and Remutaka Ranges are identified as outstanding natural landscapes. Turakirae Head, Baring Head, Parangārahu Lakes and Ward Island have been defined as outstanding natural features.
Like indigenous biodiversity, the RMA and Wellington Regional Policy Statement require council to identify and protect these features.
Lower Hutt has a long coastline ranging from the highly modified beaches of Petone and Eastbourne to the rugged untouched raised beaches of Turakirae Head.
Almost the entire coastline is accessible to the public and thousands of people live, work or play along it. It is also vulnerable to natural hazards such as erosion, rising sea levels, storms and tsunami.
Council is required to identify and protect areas of high coastal natural character.
The district plan is required to regulate and protect notable trees, rural farmland, noise and vibration, and activities on water whether sea or river.
Council needs to work with the community and landowners to protect significant ecosystems on private land. The same applies to regulating actions on private land which may have dramatic effects on the landscape or the coast. We need to be able to limit what private landowners can do to certain natural areas to protect them for the benefit of everyone. In practice, the kind of restrictions we need will cause little inconvenience to only a very small number of people.
Frequently asked questions
View the frequently asked questions.
You can contact our District Plan team at: firstname.lastname@example.org