Received by email today.
The Dunedin Amenities Society have held strong concerns over aspects of the District Plan for some time, particularly over the way the Plan is integrated with management of public open space and reserves. Sites like the Town Belt are actually being hampered in their management by the imposition of the Urban Landscape Conservation Area rules, which fails to have regard for its status under the Reserves act 1977. The Minister of Conservation approved a management plan for the Town Belt in 2007, but what is the point if the District Plan overrides its principles.
The Society urges all members and people of Dunedin to consider how the reserve conservation areas that we have in Dunedin should be managed and how the District Plan should complement their management rather than impede it.
● The Dunedin Amenities Society established in 1888 is New Zealand’s oldest environmental society.
Here is the latest update from the Society’s website:
A Conservation Conundrum
The Dunedin City Council is presently undertaking a review of the District Plan and that review will mean that the Dunedin Amenities Society will also be looking at the implications of those changes. The review includes looking at creating a new open space, reserves and recreation zone which would “reflect the different types of open space and recreation areas”. The current District Plan does not recognise reserve, conservation or recreation areas as distinct entities, but rather classifies them within the zone of the surrounding land. The problem with that approach is that the activities and land use that is associated with reserve, conservation or recreation sites is often quite distinct to the surrounding land use zones. Reserve sites such as the Town Belt are often over-arched with a wider zone classification such as the “Urban Landscape Conservation Area”. Thus the rules of the District Plan override the legal protection status of the reserve under the Reserves Act 1977 without fully understanding the nature of the reserve or its values. This creates inherent problems for reserves like the Town Belt when dealing with very real conservation management issues.
In one example the current District Plan actually hampers the ability of the Council to manage areas of high conservation significance. The rules (13.8.2) associated with the management of bush within Urban Landscape Conservation Areas have inadvertently protected the highly invasive Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). Vegetation removal in these zones is a discretionary activity, which is infinitely sensible as it protects flora and fauna on private land. However, under the District Plan the rule “does not apply where the plants to be removed are listed in any Regional Pest Plant Management Strategy applying to the district of Dunedin City”. Here lies the conservation conundrum because sycamore is not included in the Otago Regional Council’s Pest Plant Management Strategy (that’s a whole other post at a later time). Which means that under the current Urban Landscape Conservation Area rules sycamore becomes classified as “bush” and the removal of individual mature seed bearing sycamore cannot be undertaken without resource consent.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr