Proposed Plan Change 17 was requested by Whakatāne District Council to insert provisions for debris flow risk management on the Awatarariki fanhead at Matatā into the Natural Hazards chapter of the Bay of Plenty Regional Natural Resources Plan (RNRP).
The change was requested to manage the risk to people’s safety by creating policies and rules that will end residential activity on high risk properties within the fanhead, and extinguish existing use rights on those properties.
Proposed Plan Change 17 was publicly notified on 19 June 2018 and eight submissions plus two further submissions were received. Submissions were heard at a public hearing from 2 to 4 March 2020 and the hearing panel of independent commissioners released their decisions on 1 April 2020.
One appeal was lodged with the Environment Court against Council's decisions. Extensive discussions and negotiations between the Councils and the appellant led to an agreement to settle the appeal. The agreed changes were presented to the Environment Court in December 2020 and the Court decision endorsing those changes was released shortly after.
Proposed Plan Change 17 was incorporated into the Regional Natural Resources Plan and made operative on 29 March 2021.