Regional councillors to consider submissions shortly
Hundreds of submissions on possible new rules to prevent marine pests spreading, paying for marine biosecurity and updates to Northland’s harbour safety rules will be considered by regional councillors shortly.
Council chairman Bill Shepherd says the council received more than 500 public submissions over a month on three important council documents, all of which will potentially impact on boaties and the marine industry in particular.
“We asked the public what they thought of council’s proposed annual activities and budgets via our Annual Plan and Charging Policy, how pests are managed through our Northland Regional Pest and Marine Pathway Management Plan and rules for keeping people safe on the water via our Navigation Safety Bylaw.”
Chairman Shepherd says of the 500-plus submissions; about 300 commented on how to pay for marine pest management, with another roughly 230 addressing limits on the movement of fouled vessels and more than 200 on continuation of council’s Regional Infrastructure rate.
“Obviously some submitters traversed more than one subject while having their say, but anyone interested in reading any of the roughly 520 submissions we received overall can find them all online at www.nrc.govt.nz/combinedconsult
Chairman Shepherd says councillors will hear submissions in Whangarei from 9am to 3pm on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 May before reconvening the following day at the Bay of Islands Yacht Club in Waitangi (Wednesday 24 May) from 9am to 4:30pm.
While the hearings themselves will be open to the public, as usual only those who have made submissions and already formally indicated they wish to be heard by councillors will be able to speak at them.
Chairman Shepherd says as well as the formal submission period – which ran from 18 March to 21 April – councillors and staff had also been at several well-attended public drop-in sessions and meetings with stakeholders to talk to people and answer questions about the proposals.
He says as expected, council’s consideration of a boat-focussed, user-pays type charge as a potentially fairer way to cover the costs of a programme to stop the spread of marine pests had attracted a great deal of interest – and comment – from boaties in particular.
“We appreciate all the feedback we’ve had from the public as we collectively consider the best way forward on all three documents. As always, when we’re hearing submissions and preparing to make final decisions, we’re very keen to do so from the most informed position we can.”
Chairman Shepherd says the council expects to issue final decisions on the Annual Plan, Charging Policy and Navigation Safety Bylaw and be able to adopt them – with any changes necessary as a result of the hearings – next month.
A decision on the Northland Regional Pest and Marine Pathway Management Plan is expected to follow shortly after.