Cr Intemann says council biodiversity study gives environment priority before action

I had several discussions this week with people concerned at how 'back-to-front' council's planning often seems to be.

The main topics were investigations into new link roads to meet future traffic needs, and the proposed health and education precinct - both in Port, but affecting Wauchope residents also.

People are bothered because council has put up the proposals despite what looks to the community like obvious and perhaps insurmountable environmental impacts.

That's seen as foolish because it relies on later studies to reveal impediments which the community earlier foresaw. Is that a flaw in council processes, or a misunderstanding by residents?

Council is caught somewhat in a hard place because it cannot make final decisions without detailed studies by experts.

But it neither can, nor should, invest what are often the huge financial costs of those studies until it has narrowed its options to just one - or in the case of a possible new road, just a few - final alternatives. Is there a better way?

One way council is working to improve that process is through the Biodiversity Strategy, which was adopted last month after extensive studies and consultation since 2014.

The strategy identifies and maps the most important biological assets and connecting areas in the broader Hastings and Camden Haven, outlines key risks to those assets and ways to mitigate the risks.

That means land owners, land planners and other interested parties can now be armed with early information on places of high ecological value, without having to do small area studies at the outset.

There is still some scepticism about council's commitment to environmental conservation and how the strategy will work into the future.

But it is a good step in the right direction and I will be keeping a close watch on how it translates into better outcomes.

Cr Intemann's stories from a civic heart are her opinions and not necessarily those of council.