The Hastings Council is conducting informal consultation on a wide range of issues involving the district’s natural features and environments.

All of the landscapes most of us consider the most precious aspects of Hawke’s Bay fall within the scope of this consultation, which, among other issues, is seeking your views on the natural areas that might require more protection in the Hastings District Plan … to be formally revised in 2013.

Natural areas include river margins and esplanade reserves (which provide access to waterways), coastal environments, areas of indigenous natural vegetation, and valued landscapes. All of these could be affected by population pressure, water shortage, urban development, climate change and other dynamics. Hence the need to anticipate potentially greater protection in the District Plan going forward.

For example, these areas are currently classified as Outstanding Landscape Character Areas:

  • Te Mata Peak — West and East Face
  • Kahuraniki
  • Mount Erin — Kohinurakau
  • Cape Kidnappers
  • Whakaari Headland — Tangoio Bluff
  • Maungahururu Range
  • Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges
  • Lake Tutira Basin

HDC considers these areas to have a “high level of protection”, including resource consents required for certain land uses. If you don’t consider those protections high enough, now is the time to speak up.

In addition, these areas are identified as Significant Landscape Areas:

  • Waipunga-Tarawera
  • Eskdale
  • Tutaekuri Valley (Dartmoor-Puketapu-Omaranui Roads)
  • Hills surrounding the Heretaunga Plains
  • Tukituki Valley — Te Mata section
  • Ocean Beach
  • Ocean Beach Settlement
  • Clifton
  • Waitangi Estuary and Shingle Pits
  • Tangoio Beach Settlement

Obviously there’s been a bit of controversy around some of these areas in recent times! Which of these might require more protection … and what should that protection be?

HDC has prepared a Natural Areas Discussion Document covering these issues, which you can read online at www.myvoicemychoice.co.nz

Here are some of the questions posed:

  • How can we better protect our outstanding landscapes (places likeTe Mata Peak, Mt Kahuranaki and Cape Kidnappers)  from inappropriate development?
  • Are there other landscape areas that should be protected?
  • Is our current approach to access and conservation of our rivers and lakes appropriate?
  • Should we extend or reduce the areas where we require the creation of esplanade reserves?
  • Do you think that our current approach is appropriate to safeguard remaining areas of indigenous vegetation?
  • Do any parts of our coastline have specific natural character issues associated with them?

If you wish to comment, you have until 29 February to submit. And you can do so online.

While this is still an informal stage of the Plan review process, my advice would be to speak up early and often!

Tom Belford

P.S. For more information, contact Rowan Wallis at rowanw@hdc.govt.nz

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