Regional Transport Plan Will Increase Emissions And Is Thus Unlawful

Waikato Regional Council (WRC) has approved a transport plan which assigns just 3% of its 10-year budget to walking and cycling, and only 5% to public transport. This must inevitably increase overall transport emission pollution in the region.  In my opinion the law requires the plan to reduce transport emissions to achieve consistency with central government transport policy.  If emissions will rise under the plan this makes the plan unlawful and places WRC at significant risk of a successful legal challenge. 

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April 2021 Newsletter

Te Huia Rail Link

The month kicked off with the official opening by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the new rail link between Hamilton and Auckland – Te Huia.  The carriages have been refurbished to an exceptionally high standard – as good as anything I have seen within New Zealand or overseas.  It’s a very smooth quiet ride with a cafeteria, tables for commuters to work on with their laptops, USB ports and free Wi-Fi.  It’s a five year trial, with the expectation that more frequent services going further into the Auckland CBD will be added.  Potentially in the future, stops could be added to make it more convenient for Thames-Coromandel people heading to Auckland.

Regional Coastal Plan Review

Councillors received two briefings in April on the Regional Coastal Plan Review.

Topics covered included – Policy Programme overview · Regional coastal plan policy direction papers · Coastal Marine Area and Coastal Environment Line – scope of the Coastal Plan Review · Motiti Island decision.

The review will be wide ranging and is likely to cover the following issues –

· Air · Aquaculture · Biosecurity · Coastal Water Quality and Discharges to Water · Disturbances · Ecosystems and Indigenous Biodiversity · Historic Heritage · Marinas · Moorings · Natural Character · Natural Features and Landscapes (Seascapes) · Natural Hazards · Noise · Public Access · Structures · Surf Breaks · Surface Water Activities · Tāngata whenua

Consultation with key stakeholders and the general public is ongoing so keep an eye out for opportunities to have your say throughout 2021.

Long Term Plan Consultation

Public consultation on the Long Term Plan occurred during April with over 1400 submissions received. 

One of the proposals in the LTP is to provide low-interest loans to homeowners to carry out retrofitting of their properties.  On 26 April I spoke to the AGM of the Mercury Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association in Whitianga about the sustainable home loan program.  Public feedback from that meeting and overall has been very positive.

Council will hold hearings this week to consider the submissions and hear from submitters who wish to appear in person.

Maungatautari sanctuary

On 20 April I had the great pleasure of visiting the Maungatautari sanctuary with other councillors and to witness the release of three kiwi back into the bush.  WRC is an active supporter of this wonderful initiative.  It’s well worth a visit to see firsthand what is being done to protect so many of our endangered species.

Meeting with Iwi

Together with WRC Deputy Chair Kataraina Hodge I also met with representatives of Ngati Maru in Thames and Ngati Tara Tokanui in Paeroa for a meet and greet and to hear their concerns

Responsible Investment

on 28 April the Finance and Services Committee of the Council held a workshop to consider the Council’s Responsible Investment Policy.  There was discussion around the Council divesting its investment funds from fossil fuels and other environmentally and socially damaging activities, and having a specific climate change related investment policy.  Evidence shows that divestment and a responsible investment policy produces better returns. A final decision will be made shortly.

Regional Pest Management Plan Review

Public consultation on this plan has been extended until 4 pm 14 May 2021- see here for more

Sustainable Homes Loans for Waikato Ratepayers?

My proposal that Waikato Regional Council commence a sustainable home loan scheme will soon go out for public consultation. Low interest loans to targeted ratepayers who opt in to the scheme would be repaid monthly over 10 years through rates.  The loans can be used to for insulation, heating, ventilation, double-glazing, solar power/batteries, water tanks and upgrading septic tanks. The programme is designed to be cost-neutral and run at no cost to general ratepayers.

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