Environment Minister Nick Smith has told the independent panel hearing submissions on the Auckland unitary plan there’s no need for legislation to clarify which version of the regional policy statement the plan must give effect to.
In a letter on Thursday to panel chairman Judge David Kirkpatrick, Dr Smith said the current legislation gave the panel the broad powers it needed to regulate proceedings, including the ability to issue interim guidance on likely recommendations.
Dr Smith said both the Resource Management Act and the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act were clear that the panel was required to give effect to the proposed regional policy statement, forming part of the proposed unitary plan, rather than the existing regional policy statement, which has been operative since 1999.
The question about multiple versions of the regional policy statement arose at a conference the panel held on Tuesday with representatives of submitters, called to discuss whether the panel should issue recommendations or “indications” on the regional policy statement now, or wait until it presents its whole recommendation to Auckland Council.
One possibility raised at that conference was for the panel to issue what would effectively be a temporary replacement of the operative regional policy statement, but the panel’s job is to recommend a plan to Auckland Council, not decide.
Dr Smith didn’t get into whether the panel could issue a temporary version, but did say its job was to give effect to the proposed policy statement.
Judge Kirkpatrick expects to issue a decision in the next week on what course the panel will adopt.
28 January 2015: Panel to make crucial decision affecting course of unitary plan hearing
Attribution: Ministerial letter.