Another busy month was kicked off with over 200 people attending a public meeting in Whitianga to discuss better marine protection in the coastal waters around the Peninsula. There was a strong groundswell of support for larger areas to be set aside for marine reserves and to ban bottom impact fishing methods such as trawling and dredging. As one of the speakers at the meeting I was able to emphasise the importance of making a submission on the Regional Council’s Regional Coastal Plan.
June was a huge month for WRC staff as they moved into the new council building on the corner of Tristram and Ward streets in Hamilton CBD.
Wharekawa joint coastal hazard project between WRC and Hauraki District Council is progressing very well. The community panels have been well briefed on environmental social, economic and natural hazard issues and will soon start to investigate potential options under the adaptive planning approach
Along with three other regional councillors I attended the meeting of the Regional Transport Committee as an observer. The committee comprises a chair and one member from the Regional Council with the other members comprising representation from district councils around the region. The committee deliberated on whether to approve the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) which was contentious for not making sufficient reductions in transport emissions. The chair outrageously attempted to exclude myself and three other regional councillors from the meeting when it entered into a publicly excluded session. We stood our ground as we were legally entitled to be present throughout the entire meeting.
A workshop was held to discuss TCDC’s wish to commence a plan change which is required if the proposed new swimming pool on land at risk from both river and coastal flooding at Totara, Thames is to proceed. I am still none the wiser as to why a plan change for this project is seen as a priority when the Thames shoreline management community panel has yet to complete its deliberations. Also why is not a plan change around the clear and present danger of Thames township to coastal flooding, not regarded as the first priority for planning action?
In late June the government released its response to the Seachange proposals for the Hauraki Gulf. Additional marine protection areas are proposed and some limits on bottom trawling. But overall the response from local people and stakeholders is that the government’s proposals do not go nearly far enough and much more ambition is required.
At the council meeting on 24 June there was a mix of good news and bad news on the climate action front. WRC has an investment fund of approximately $107 million and has agreed to divest fossil fuel companies from its investment portfolio, and adopt a sustainable investment policy.
Unfortunately the council did not accept my proposal that the Regional Land Transport Plan be referred back to the Regional Land Transport Committee because the plan would increase transport emissions and was therefore unlawful
On 30 June the council adopted the Long Term Plan for the next 10 years, including my proposal for a sustainable home loan scheme