Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) are areas of significant indigenous vegetation or habitat. Under the ‘old’ District Plan there were still requirements to protect areas of native vegetation but these were vague rules, for example ‘There shall be no destruction of any native vegetation where the area of native vegetation exceeds 1 hectare with an average height of 3 metres or more’
Porirua City Council is now required to have more specific provisions within the ‘new’ District Plan and are mandated to identify the specific areas of the most significant biodiversity and to protect these. The SNAs that Council has identified are listed in a Schedule within the Proposed District Plan with each SNA having a name and an explanation of its significance.
Where an SNA has been identified the Proposed District Plan does not require it to be fenced or for the landowner to undertake any other form of stock management. Restoration and maintenance is encouraged, but not required. There are various circumstances where removal of the native vegetation is allowed but it is possible that a resource consent would be required for clearance of the native vegetation.
Council first notified landowners with SNAs in June 2018. This has been followed by opportunities for landowners to work with Council to further define these areas resulting in some changes. Now that the Proposed District Plan has been notified, under the Resource Management Act, any further changes must be requested through a submission which will be considered by an independent hearings panel.
Landowners were encouraged to put in a submission if they believed the Significant Natural Area on their property was incorrectly mapped or if they did not support the rules themselves.