The natural character of Northland's coast varies from mainly natural environments which have a high degree of natural character such as the South Head of the Parengarenga Harbour (below right) to highly developed and built environments with a lower degree of natural character such as Paihia in the Bay of Islands (below left). Judging natural character is about scale or degree of natural character. All of Northland's coast has a degree of natural character.
Contrasting examples of natural character between Paihia (left), which is highly modified and the South Head of the Parengarenga Harbour (right).
Significant issues likely to affect the natural character of the coast have been identified within the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) for Northland (NRC 2002). These include the impacts of residential and industrial development on coastal margins, the modification and disturbance of sand dunes through development, the placement of coastal structures, pedestrian and vehicle access, and increased rates of estuarine sedimentation.
The NRC has prepared a Regional Coastal Plan (RCP) for Northland (NRC 2004) which identifies the significant issues in the coastal marine area and sets out the objectives, policies and actions to deal with these issues. The RCP has been prepared in accordance with the direction set out by the coastal management section of the RPS.
Several of these issues fall under the responsibility of the District Councils. District plans must be consistent with the RPS. Issues such as controls on appropriate development of coastal margins and public access to the coast are addressed within district plans. The Northland Regional Council works closely with the District Councils, principally through the district plan and resource consent process.
Northland Regional Council has stated a number of objectives relating to coastal management within the RPS. These seek to preserve the natural character of Northland's coastal environment, while maintaining and enhancing public use and access.
The RPS objectives are:
· The preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment, including protection from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.
· Prevention of damage to and loss of traditional fisheries habitats and tangata whenua resources of significance to the tangata whenua.
· Maintenance and enhancement of public use, enjoyment of and access to the coastal environment.
· The minimisation of the conflicts between uses in the coastal environment and their effects on public health and safety.
The following is the anticipated environmental results after the implementation of the coastal management policies in the RPS:
· The maintenance and enhancement of the natural character of the coastal environment.
· Enhanced access to and use of traditional fisheries and other resources by tangata whenua.
· Greater protection of sites of significance to tangata whenua and those features which contribute to the natural character of the coastal environment.
· Appropriate and environmentally sensitive use of the Coastal Marine Area by people involved in water-related activities.
· Improved public access to foreshore areas and enjoyment of the wider coastal environment.
· Increase in formally reserved areas.