The current District Plan has earthworks provisions that relate to the rural zone only.
The National Planning Standards now require earthworks to be addressed in a separate chapter. The new Earthworks chapter will also address general mining, quarrying and gravel extraction activities.
Note: The Oceana Gold Ltd mining area will be addressed as a Special Purpose Zone in the new District Plan.
► The existing earthworks provisions only relate to activities in the rural zones. The District Plan currently has no controls over earthworks in the residential, rural residential, township or commercial zones.
► Earthworks in all zones have the potential to create adverse effects if they are not managed to control sediment run-off and can damage natural landforms, biodiversity, and areas that are important to the community, including takata whenua. Earthworks can also result in large stockpiles of removed material that can effect visual amenity and cause dust problems.
► The current District Plan provisions do not allow for the consideration of earthworks to be given at subdivision consent stage. This can result in large scale earthworks taking place prior to a subdivision application being made that are not effectively managed and can result in adverse effects on residential amenity from run-off, dust, noise and vibration.
► Currently, any earthworks over 50m2 in area require a resource consent in the rural zones. This low threshold often means that otherwise permitted activities need a resource consent solely for earthworks. This creates additional time and cost for an activity that may have low environmental effects.
► Mining, quarrying and gravel extraction activities can often generate effects that are experienced beyond their site boundaries, such as noise, dust, vibration, damage to roads and traffic safety.
► There are currently no setback requirements for earthworks in relation to network utilities and national grid infrastructure. This can pose a risk to health and safety and the potential for damage to utilities. National guidance requires District Plans to ensure that earthworks do not adversely affect the operation of the national grid.
DRAFT RESPONSES TO KEY ISSUES
► New earthworks provisions to ensure that earthworks in all zones are managed to control silt and sediment run-off and do not result in any adverse environmental effects such as dust, erosion, vibration etc. Controls will also address earthworks as part of the subdivision process.
► Increase the minimum threshold for permitted earthworks in the rural zones where these take place on flat ground, are not publically viewable, are a suitable distance away from a waterbody and outside of any overlay areas (areas of significant landscape, coastal, geological or biodiversity value).
► Strengthen the rule framework for mining, quarrying and gravel extraction to limit the number of truck movements, noise, dust, hours of operation and setbacks from sensitive activities such as residential. Also require site landscaping and site restoration measures.
► Introduce setback rules for earthworks adjacent to the national grid energy infrastructure.