The Western Bay of Plenty District Council is pleased with the outcome of the recent Environment Court decision confirming the forested part of Matakana Island as ‘extremely important' from a landscape perspective, and should be protected from development.
Matakana Island is known for its pristine beach, which is 22 kilometres long without buildings.
It is a vista enjoyed by the wider community when viewed from the mainland, harbour, open coast, Bowentown Heads and Mauao.
The decision brings to a close a long process that began in 2009 when the council sought to include in its district plan tighter development controls to recognise the ecological, environmental and cultural significance of the Island.
In 2014 Bay of Plenty Regional Council (which is responsible for the type of activity that can take place in coastal and harbour areas and their margins) also sought to increase the level of environmental protection by notifying in the Regional Coastal Environment Plan that the whole of the forested sand barrier of Matakana Island was to be classified as an Outstanding Natural Feature and Landscape.
The decision was to protect a strip along the open coast with no landscape controls on the remainder.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council lodged an appeal with the court seeking to increase this protection and have it apply to the whole of the barrier part of the island.
The court decision to formally extend the levels of environmental protection for Matakana Island from inappropriate development is important for the wider Western Bay community and Matakana Islanders.
The decision also reinforces the position of the island as a treasure in the Western Bay of Plenty.