Marlborough Express - Collaborative approach the only way forward

Columns
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

There are increased, and public, efforts being made by Marlborough primary industry groups to engage council in discussion on the region's management plan and regional policy statement review. Without open, active communication from both sides, a regional plan cannot be expected to work for everyone: for this to happen, everyone must see the plan in its entirety before it is notified.

At this time, not everyone has had access to a full draft and notification is scheduled for late this year, which is fast approaching. Through the mammoth process of bringing together the Marlborough Sounds and Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plans and the Marlborough Regional Policy Statement to merge into one plan, the Marlborough District Council has consulted with various interested parties and stakeholders including industry and iwi. Under the Resource Management Act, council are not actually obliged to consult during the process: it is to their credit that they have.

The result of this consultation meant many hours of compiling, weighing up and considering the vast amounts of information, opinions and facts to include within the framework for this reviewed plan, of which the bulk can be seen by the public online.

It is fantastic that council took the time to do this. But now, with notification looming, industries are waiting to see and scrutinise the rules and policies that have still not been presented to them.

All share similar concerns about where the district plan review is at, and where it is headed.

Five industry groups - first individually, then as a collective - have been urging for the opportunity to meet with the mayor and councillors to outline their concerns.

Most recently those industry representatives - Federated Farmers, the Marine Farming Association, Wine Marlborough, the Marlborough Forest Industry Association and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce - have gone public with their concerns by means of an open letter to their members.

The importance of the review of our regional policy statement and resource management plans has not been lost on our primary industries. This review is about the objectives, policies and methods governing the use of Marlborough's natural and physical resources.

This document will have a great effect on the economic development of Marlborough. The rules and policies within will determine change, it may restrict some activities and require spending to meet compliance. The ramifications of what is being proposed need to be understood clearly by all and the contribution primary industries make to the Marlborough economy must not be underestimated.

A collaborative approach is the only way forward to environmental management that works for the future good of Marlborough.