Reflections on Crater Hill and Okura

The recent Environment Court decisions on Crater Hill - Ngā Kapua Kohuora and Okura have reinforced the importance of strongly worded objectives and policies in plans driving decisions on how resources are to be sustainably managed. The decisions both recognise that part of the role of planning is to draw lines and protect resources, even when there is pressure to expand housing capacity. The lesson is that when Regional and District Plans make reasonable trade-offs to protect some resources and develop others, and clearly express these in their policies, then those provisions are defendable. Expert planning evidence needs to tell the story of how the objectives and policies make the calls needed to support quality environmental outcomes. Chloe Trenouth presented expert planning evidence on behalf of Auckland Council on Crater Hill while David Mead presented expert planning evidence on behalf of Auckland Council on Okura.