Home Improvement Loan Scheme
The big news for May is that Waikato Regional Council will proceed with the home improvement loan scheme that I have been promoting for the last year. For all the details on the scheme see this blog post here
Other long-term plan decisions :
Te Huia Rail Service
97% of the submissions on the long-term plan wanted the Te Huia passenger rail expanded, and this will now happen.. As well as adding a late-morning and early-afternoon run, there will be more Saturday services and the ability to stay on one train all the way up to the Strand in Auckland
Te Waka – the regional development agency received an increase in funding up to $750,000. This will be for 3 years, funded from our investment returns. I would like to see more of a climate change lens applied to the activities the agency gets involved with
I was disappointed that Council did not follow the clear majority wish from submitters to commence the expanded biodiversity business case in year one. I voted to have this program start immediately. There is much to do in the space including implementation of the government’s Essential Freshwater reforms published late last year
The rates remission and postponement policies will be updated as planned.
The Climate Action committee invited Dr David Hall to talk about new ways of financing biodiversity and restoration work both on land and in the ocean. One concept that caught everyone’s imagination was “Blue Bonds”.
The proposed Hauraki Gulf Blue Bond is a debt instrument for which the use-of-proceeds
are linked to the protection, rehabilitation and enhancement of the mauri (or life force) of the Hauraki
Gulf/Tīkapa Moana/Te Moana-nui-ā-Toi. Investors are paid an interest rate on a fixed schedule and will
receive their initial investment (principal) upon maturity. The bond could be issued to institutional
investors by a bank, local or regional council, or even as a sovereign blue bond by the New Zealand
New EnviroHub for Thames
There are exciting plans for a new collaborative Envirohub for Thames. I attended a meeting with representatives from a hugely diverse number of groups working in and around Thames on environmental issues. Plans are afoot for these groups to share premises in Thames and to work more collaboratively. Watch this space
Electric Vehicle Conference
I attended this conference in Auckland. All of the key players involved in advancing the uptake of electric vehicles were there. See my blog post on the amazing progress being made in Norway and how we might follow.
My key takeaway is that the transition to electric vehicles is going to happen so much faster than we imagine. Some media reports have electric vehicles only achieving price parity with petrol and diesel vehicles by 2027. You heard it here first, but this will happen many years earlier than that.
Council’s Environmental data
WRC staff have worked tirelessly to produce a new one stop shop for environmental data. It is so much more user-friendly and a great way to check out things like “what was the water level of my river yesterday” or “what was the air quality in my town for the last week”. Here is recent river flow data for the Kauaeranga River —
There is also data on water quality, rainfall, ecology, and more. It’s well worth a visit – here.
The recent storm surge event on the East Coast of the Coromandel is yet another reminder that climate change and sea level rise will bring these events on a much more frequent basis. We have already had 20 cm of sea level rise so whenever we get one of these events it’s causing havoc from a starting point that much higher. This increased height means a storm surge is more likely to flow further inland – as we saw at Brophy’s beach.
Protecting our Ocean
On Saturday 5 June I will be speaking at an event in Whitianga about the degradation of the marine environment due to over-fishing and other activities. Some great discussion and problem solving anticipated so be great if you can come along
New Headquarters in Central Hamilton
As of this week Council will be working from its new home at 160 Ward Street in central Hamilton. I was able to attend the early-morning blessing of the new building. It incorporates many state-of-the-art environmental features with solar panels on the roof planned and most importantly there will be electric vehicle charging stations!
The current premises was spread through five buildings and on both sides of Grey so it was far from ideal and made integration of the Council’s activities that much more difficult. See this news article