TCDC Mayor/Councillors’ ‘middle finger’ to youth

TCDC Votes to NOT Sign Climate Change Declaration

Thames-Coromandel District councillors and the mayor voted 6 – 3 on 2 March against signing the Local Government Climate Leaders Climate Change Declaration. They just gave an unapologetic middle digit salute to the youth of Thames Coromandel.

The New Zealand Herald has published this as an opinion piece …

At the public forum, the Council heard impassioned pleas from 14-year-old Thames high school students Lillian Balfour and Helena Mayer for the Council to sign the Declaration and take strong action on climate change. 

Helena and Lillian

Submissions from the students and from the local community called on the council to do much more than just coastal protection works.  They wanted the council to adopt a comprehensive climate action plan and for the Council itself to reduce its own emissions – as called for in the LGNZ Declaration.

The mayor rejects the “media fabrication” that she is a climate change denier. But when asked whether she accepted that humans were causing present climate change, she shied away from a straight answer – “I don’t know enough about the science to know what the cause is. I’m not a scientist”.  Would she give the same answer when asked whether smoking causes cancer, or about the basic science of gravity?   I suspect she will be trusting her knowledge of gravity science and not throwing herself off a cliff any time soon.

denial not policy

Without a hint of irony mayor Goudie has asserted that her council is “leading the way” on responding to climate change. She reckons the council’s just commenced work on coastal hazards is an outstanding example of climate action.  In fact, TCDC has been dragging the chain on this work.  It deliberately did not include planning for well-documented local coastal flooding when it recently reviewed its District Plan.  Many other councils have already produced property-specific hazard maps which show present and projected future coastal inundation risk as required by law changes made in 2010. (New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 ). TCDC has only just begun this process.  

Newsroom reported in late 2017 that TCDC was still approving major coastal development after considering only 0.49m of sea level rise. Highly directive government policies in the NZCPS 2010 on coastal hazards and climate change have been routinely ignored.

73-unit apartment block for the elderly in Thames was consented in 2017, relying on a 16-year old sea level rise hazard assessment.  18 months later TCDC registered a sea inundation hazard notice on the land’s title.

The council resisted including a reference to indicative Regional Council inundation maps in its LIM reports and only reluctantly did so under sustained legal pressure.

In mayor Goudie’s parallel universe apparently, TCDC is also “leading the way” with emission reduction actions.   These impressive climate mitigation projects include a fossil-fueled public bus service in Thames, a few electric vehicle charging stations which can be found throughout New Zealand, and “promotion of cycling”.  There are no dedicated urban cycleways in the district.

The Council and the Mayor also persist with the manufactured fiction that signing the declaration will have “unknown financial and legal implications” For this ridiculous proposition to be correct the other 60 councils which have already signed the Declaration without any such concerns must all be mistaken.

Dave Cull President of LGNZ has directly contradicted the mayor when she says the Declaration will bind the council to unapproved spending. 

The Mayor has also attempted to distort a LGNZ legal opinionfrom Jack Hodder QC which sharply warns councils of litigation risk from inaction on climate change, with the absurd suggestion that signing an aspirational non-binding Declaration will cause litigation risk.  Sandra Goudie sought no legal advice before confidently asserting that Hodder’s opinion in fact was saying the opposite – that signing an aspirational non-binding Declaration will give cause to litigation risk.  You can just imagine the rush to sue when the council transitions its fleet to cheaper to run electric vehicles or installs roof-top solar on council offices.

These fictitious excuses are a smokescreen for a mayor and the majority of councillors who refuse to take climate change mitigation action seriously or to show the leadership on climate change the local community desperately requested.

Their “do nothing” head-in-the sand anti-science position on climate change has been exposed. The question now is – will voters in the forthcoming 2019 elections give them the comeuppance they deserve?

Some Media coverage to date –

TV3 News 6 pm 2 April print


Morning report

Stuff print 

and here

RNZ news 2 pm 2 April