To: Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation
Date: 10 March 2020
In light of the presentation and strategic discussion on management planning that the Authority engaged in at the October 2019 meeting, it became clear that a new approach to statutory management planning processes is required. The design of the system should better reflect the capacity of the resources the Department allocates to planning.
At the December 2019 meeting, you proposed, as a possible solution, the use of a template for the CMSs and NPMPs, under the National Planning Standards in the Resource Management Act 1991, and asked that the Authority provide their feedback. Comments from Authority members include:
- The principle of national guidance has merit; the NPS’s that are emerging focus on a national implementation and have been driving quality plan and policy development that better position councils to address environmental challenges.
- The General Policy’s (CGP and GPNP) are currently varied, detailed, and prescriptive in such a way that they do not provide contemporary national guidance. As such, they are not a national guidance tool that empowers and strengthens conservation. It would be beneficial for guidance to be forward looking and adaptable, to better address contemporary and developing issues and challenges.
- There is support for developing and issuing regular guidance as opposed to a fixed ‘template’. Best practice guidelines should avoid the risk of being too prescriptive but ensure that there is national guidance on the expected standards.
- In order to set a clear and consistent goal for the future, some local decision making must be removed. However, there must be provisions that allow for specific, local circumstances to be accounted for. There must be flexibility as to how national templates are applied.
- Key drivers would be the same wherever a National Park or conservation value was located. By providing national guidance, bodies at a local level will be able to concentrate their efforts into a smaller, and more focussed number of local issues.
To summarise, the Authority agree that a template is an option that should be explored in full. If approached correctly, this could allow for an adaptable planning process that maintains national direction and standards, whilst allowing for locale issues to be considered.
We are certainly of the collective opinion that a fundamental change to the current planning processes must occur in order to tackle the growing number of overdue and outdated plans, and to ensure robust and relevant plans moving forward.
At the April 2020 meeting, Mike Slater, DOC Deputy Director-General Operations, will be present for a further strategic discussion on the Department’s Management Planning Framework. We anticipate a dynamic discussion that sheds light on the avenues being explored by the Department to facilitate improvement of the planning processes.
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM