Data source
Date of text
23 Apr 2012
Original language


Type of text
Court name
The Environment Court
Jackson, R.

The question raised by these proceedings under the Resource Management Act 1991 (“the RMA”) is if the resource consents for three high-yielding mussel farms in Port Gore should be renewed or not. The three sites are close to the southeastern shores of Port Gore on the southern side of Cook Strait. Under section 6(a) of the RMA the Environmental court must first recognise and then protect the coastal environment of Port Gore from inappropriate use and development. Before it can decide whether any one or more of the proposed farms is inappropriate development The Court had to first identify how natural that coastal environment is. There have been some decisions of the Environment Court about the meaning of “natural character” in section 6(a) of the RMA but they probably now need to be read in the light of the NZCPS 2010 objective 2 which is (relevantly) “To preserve the natural character of the coastal environment and protect natural features and landscape values through ... recognising the characteristics and qualities that contribute to natural character, natural features and landscape values and their location and distribution ...”. In the end, after weighing all the evidence in respect of each mussel farm individually in the light of the relevant policy directions in the various statutory instruments and the RMA itself, the Court considered that achieving the purpose of the Act requires that each application for a mussel farm should be declined.