John Carter FNDC mayor says more than 280,000 hectares in the Far North have been mapped as potential SNAs.
Massive public opposition against new significant natural areas biodiversity classifications for thousands of hectares of land will likely result in the Far North District council halting its work on the controversial plans.
Far North District Council (FNDC) councillors will meet to decide on pausing the significant natural areas (SNAs) work.
Mayor John Carter said he expected Tuesday’sdecision to be in favour of halting proceedings for now, with Associate Environment Minister James Shaw subsequently informed.
He said the pause came after huge local reaction over plans for SNAs across the Far North.
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Carter said this opposition was the biggest over any issue in his decades as a central and local government politician.
FNDC has come under fire for the way it has gone about public consultation over the issue.
“Far North District council did all that was required of us,” Carter said.
“But in hindsight, there may have been a better way to proceed.”
More than 10,000 Far North properties are facing new SNAs classification for their land, limiting what they can do with this into the future. About 300 of these properties have 100 per cent of their land classified as SNAs. Two thousand-plus have more than 80 per cent similarly identified.
The controversial new zoning comes as the Government pushes for biodiversity protection across New Zealand via the new National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.
FNDC has come under fire from Māori, farmers, environmentalists and more in the wake of sending out 8000 letters to landowners including identified SNAs on their properties.
The letters were sent in spite of national legislation underpinning SNAs’ establishment not yet being finalised.
More than 280,000 hectares in the Far North have been mapped as potential SNAs.
Huge public opposition forced the council to hold an online SNAs Q and A forum, chaired by an independent mediator from Wellington.
An SNAs protest hīkoi on Friday is expected to see more than 1000 people converging on FNDC’s head office in Kaikohe. An SNAs rebellion meeting in Kawakawa this week saw more than 500 people decry their introduction. Hundreds have turned out to hui and meetings around the Far North.
Felicity Foy, an FNDC councillor at the meeting said bringing in SNAs would place huge extra costs on FNDC and its ratepayers.
FNDC should pass the matter back to central government to implement and bear the cost of doing so.
Carter said he was was not against the principle of protecting indigenous biodiversity through SNAs.
But the process of their implementation needed to be revisited.
FNDC councillor Kelly Stratford said a collaborative approach with the council’s treaty partners, farmers and others was required, instead of what had been done to date.