Significant Natural Areas (SNA) contribute to ecosystem functions, natural local heritage and the liveability of the city. They enhance indigenous biodiversity and full indigenous vegetation improves stream and riverbank stability and water quality.

We've currently got 59 SNAs identified in our District Plan as areas of remnant native forest with these mostly, although not exclusively, found around our gully network and near the banks of the Waikato River. However, as our city has grown, our natural environment has been impacted, and we want to make all ecologically significant areas  are protected, especially those that native animals, including birds and the long-tailed bat, call home.

Click here to see a map that shows where the Significant Natural Areas are that we're proposing be added to our District Plan.

How have the SNAs been identified and assessed?

Ecologist from 4Sight Consulting completed detailed assessments of each potential SNA against the 11 significance criteria. These criteria can be found on page 181 of the Waikato Regional Policy Statement (WRPS).

A report outlining the methodology and findings and a record of the assessment for each of the SNA sites has been completed.  This report is available to property owners on request by completing the form below.

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Ecologists didn’t visit my property, can I arrange for a site visit now?

Due to the city wide scale of the proposed SNAs and the number of properties impacted, the ecologists prioritised the properties they visited during the physical assessment stage. In some cases a site visit was needed but these physical site assessments have now finished and we will not be doing anymore.

If your property was not visited by an ecologist, this is because they were able to make their assessment and any necessary changes based on their desktop research and, where available, written feedback received through the initial landowner consultation.

What does it mean if my property is identified as having an SNA on it?

If your property is identified in the District Plan as having an SNA on it, Council is required to ensure the ecological values that make it an SNA are protected. We do this by including rules that outline what can and cannot happen within the parts of the property covered by an SNA.

Through Plan Change 9, we've also reviewed and refined these rules and will be proposing some changes. For example, activities such as tree removal or earthworks within the SNA may require resource consent depending on the reason and scale. Activities such as pest plant removal do not require resource consent. The current rules are outlined in Chapter 20.3 of the Operative District Plan.

The below table provides some typical examples of what works would require resource consent and what wouldn’t. Noting some of these requirements are already in the District Plan.

 

Example: Requirements:
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous vegetation or trees in a fSNA for the purposes of restoration Consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous vegetation or trees associated with the construction of new infrastructure and public walkways and cycleways in a SNA Consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous vegetation or trees associated with operation, maintenance, renewal or upgrading of existing infrastructure and public walkways and cycleways where not expressly permitted Consent required
Planting of any pest species or planting of exotic vegetation in a SNA not provided Consent required
Earthworks not expressly permitted Consent required
Additions to, or the replacement of, any existing building or structure that is proposed to exceed the existing envelope or footprint in a SNA Consent required
Construction of new public walkways and cycleways through a SNA Consent required
The placement and/or construction of any new building or structures not otherwise covered by a rule in this table Consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous and exotic vegetation or trees where necessitated by disease or age No consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous and exotic vegetation or trees where there is an unacceptable risk to public health, safety or property No consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous and exotic vegetation or trees where the work is necessary to maintain or upgrade existing private tracks and fencing No consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal for customary activities No consent required
Removal or management of pest species, including pest control No consent required
Planting and management of eco-sourced indigenous vegetation or trees for the purposes of restoration, including relocation of indigenous vegetation or trees within the same SNA No consent required
Pruning, maintenance or removal of indigenous or exotic vegetation or trees associated with operation, maintenance, renewal or upgrading of existing infrastructure and public walkways and cycleways in a cSNA that doesn't exceed a set m2 threshold or involve removal of potential bat habitat No consent required
Earthworks associated with maintaining or upgrading existing tracks, fencing, and access tracks for restoration projects and to access existing infrastructure No consent required
Earthworks associated with the operation, maintenance, renewal and upgrading of existing infrastructure and public walkways and cycleways under a specified m2 threshold No consent required
Additions to, or the replacement of, any existing building or structure that does not exceed the existing envelope or footprint in a SNA No consent required

If you are unsure whether your work requires a resource consent under the current District Plan, you can always contact our Duty Planner for general planning guidance enquiries. Please contact the duty planner weekdays 8am – 4.45pm Email: planning.guidance@hcc.govt.nz

My property was already listed as having an SNA on it, what's changing?

As part of the Plan Change, we're not proposing to remove any listed SNAs. However we have re-assessed the boundaries of some of these SNAs and the SNA on your property may be one of them. To see the differences of the SNA boundaries, click here.

We've also reviewed and refined the rules that apply to SNAs and will be proposing some changes, all of which will continue to be relevant to your property.

I live in Peacocke, will this impact my SNAs?

The SNAs identified through the proposed Peacocke Structure Plan will not be impacted by Plan Change 9. However, through Plan Change 9 we're proposing some changes to the District Plan rules relating to SNAs and these will apply to all sites across the city.

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Last updated 8 July 2022