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Local accountability

Back in February, in relation to the Transition Towns Kaitaia event ‘Reducing our Greehouse Gas Emissions’ I contacted both the Northland Regional Council and Far North District Council asking for an update on their progress towards meeting the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration.

NRC replied within a few days. FNDC finally replied this week! Better late than never I guess. With the local government elections coming up later this year we need to be informed about Council responses to these issues if we’re going to be able to ask the candidates about it and hold the incumbent ones accountable. You might want to bookmark this for future reference nearer the time. Here are their responses:

Northland Regional Council

Thank you for your query… In response I advise as follows (please note: the actions below are not necessarily driven solely by climate change but contribute to our response):

1. Develop and implement ambitious action plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support resilience within our own councils and for our local communities. These plans will:

a. promote walking, cycling, public transport and other low carbon transport options;

NRC has contributed in the following ways:

  1. In collaboration with district councils, Department of Conservation, NZ Transport Agency, Walking Access NZ and Northland Inc, NRC has developed the Northland Walking and Cycling Strategy August 2018: see https://www.nrc.govt.nz/media/13020/northland-walking-and-cycling-strategy-final.pdf

  2. Support / administration of Far North, Whangarei and Mid-North Bus services

b. work to improve the resource efficiency and health of homes, businesses and infrastructure in our district; and

NRC does not have a statutory role in housing supply or domestic building standards, but we do play a role in infrastructure and natural hazard management, including:

  1. Regional transport planning through the Regional Transport Committee and support for public bus services.

  2. Consent authority for municipal wastewater and water supply – this includes provisions in regional plans to manage the environmental effects of these activities and efficiency of water use.

  3. Natural hazard management – mapping of coastal and river flood hazards: https://nrcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=81b958563a2c40ec89f2f60efc99b13b and associated policy in the Regional Policy Statement – see Section 7:https://www.nrc.govt.nz/resource-library-summary/plans-and-policies/regional-policy-statement/

  4. Construction and management of flood mitigation infrastructure (such as Awanui, Kaeo, Kerikeri and Whangarei flood mitigation schemes).

  5. Council has also started tracking its green-house gas emissions (using the Ministry for the Environment Voluntary Reporting Guide) relating to fuel, electricity, flights and waste.

c. support the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles.

  1. Ongoing electrification of the council vehicle fleet: 12 electric vehicles – 9 fully electric and 3 plug in hybrid vehicles

  2. 80 solar panels (20kW or 500 EV km/day).

  3. Promotion/support for the electric vehicle charging network in Northland – secured co-funding from EECA and ChargeNet for 5 fast-chargers in Northland (~$300,000).

  4. Attendance at events (~10 per year) to promote EV’s generally. Ongoing staff support/advice for design of charging network in association with Northpower (9 stations installed to date, with 2 more in the pipeline – ongoing upgrades/advances in technology)

2. Work with our communities to understand, prepare for and respond to the physical impacts of climate change.

A summary of NRC related work is provided below:

  1. Coastal hazard (inundation and erosion) and flood mapping: NRC has invested heavily in modelling / mapping coastal and flood hazards which include climate change factors such as sea level rise and changes to rainfall intensity: please see:https://nrcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=81b958563a2c40ec89f2f60efc99b13b This work is ongoing but to date- Coastal inundation: 64 priority areas mapped; Coastal erosion 34 priority areas mapped; Flood hazards: 29 priority areas mapped & a number of flood mitigation schemes in place / planned. Flood warning systems are also in development (E.g. for Awanui).

  2. Coastcare – support/advice for dune restoration/protection to prevent coastal erosion and maintain natural barriers: see https://www.nrc.govt.nz/Environment/Coast/CoastCare

  3. Tsunami evacuation zones mapped & warning system: https://www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence/tsunami-evacuation-zones/

  4. Flood mitigation schemes (Including Kotuku, Awanui, Kaeo, kerikeri and proposals for further works in the 2018 Long Term Plan)

  5. Commissioned LiDAR – high resolution contour/elevation mapping which informs hazard mapping / modelling and a range of other applications (likely complete for entire region 2020)

  6. Civil defence emergency planning: Multi-agency civil defence system with 41 community response plans developed to date and Northland CDEM group established and plan in place – see: https://www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence/

  7. Regional Policy Statement natural hazards policy: restricts development in hazard prone areas – this is required to be given effect to be district councils: See Section 7 of the RPS: https://www.nrc.govt.nz/resource-library-summary/plans-and-policies/regional-policy-statement/

  8. Proposed Regional Plan: Provisions to protect dune systems and allow for restoration and controls on ‘hard protection structures’ (I.e. seawalls) and restrictions on activity in flood schemes. The Proposed Regional Plan also contains provision for the extraction, storage and efficient use of freshwater.

  9. Drought and flood warning systems (predictive models) in development

  10. Indicative water allocation tool: identifies where freshwater (surface and groundwater) is highly allocated in Northland – see: https://www.nrc.govt.nz/your-council/council-projects/new-regional-plan/indicative-water-quantity-allocation-maps/

  11. Regional water balance model – Long term predictive tool for water availability (in planning)

  12. Irrigation study – assessment of water storage options (strategic scoping study complete)

  13. Monitoring coastal aquifers for salt water intrusion (as an indicator of sea level rise/over-use)

  14. Monitoring large consented freshwater takes (large takes are metered)

  15. Regional flow gauging (rivers) to calibrate estimated ‘low-flows’

  16. Lake level monitoring / gauging

  17. Commissioned NIWA to identify climate change projections and impacts (2016 & 2017): https://www.nrc.govt.nz/resource-library-summary/research-and-reports/climate-and-weather/climate-change-projections-and-implications-for-northland

  18. Pest surveillance and responses (including marine pests) and associated rules in our Pest Management Plan / Marine Pathway plan under the Biosecurity Act – see: https://www.nrc.govt.nz/resource-library-summary/plans-and-policies/pest-management/northland-regional-pest-and-marine-pathway-management-plan/

  19. Our Environment fund also provides financial support for landowners to restore riparian margins and to stabilise erosion prone land with trees (this is supported by the NRC poplar nursery): see https://www.nrc.govt.nz/your-council/work-with-us/funding-and-awards/environment-fund/

  20. NRC also provides support / advice for landowner uptake of the Government’s 1 Billion trees programme and for soil conservation / afforestation activity in Northland: see https://www.nrc.govt.nz/environment/land/hill-country-erosion/

3. Work with central government to deliver on national emission reduction targets and support resilience in our communities.

NRC participates in the development of government policy (through technical advisory groups, submissions on central government policy / initiatives etc) where we are able to – we are also relatively successful in obtaining central government funding for programmes to improve climate change resilience in Northland including for soil conservation, water quality improvement and to facilitate afforestation. . Northland councils (Far North District, Whangarei District, Kaipara District and Northland Regional Council) established in mid-2018 a Taitokerau Councils Climate Change Adaptation Working Group to ensure a coordinated approach to climate change adaptation across the region – one of the groups roles is to look application of central government climate change guidance in Northland.

Northland Regional Council is also a signatory to the New Zealand Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration 2017

Thank you for the offer to attend the 1 March event, unfortunately I cannot make that date – but I have cc’d in Councillor Mike Finlayson for his information.

Please feel free to contact me if I can help further. Ngā mihi,

Justin Murfitt, Resource Management – Strategic Policy Specialist

Far North District Council

Thanks for questions to the Far North District Council in regards to its plans for climate change. Below are the specific answers to your questions:

The following outlines the measures contained in the Operative Far North District Plan as well as policy directions being promoted in the draft policy framework for the new consolidated District Plan regarding Climate Change. These measures respond to the directions identified in the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change commitment.

1. Develop and implement ambitious action plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support resilience within our own councils and for our local communities. These plans will:

a. promote walking, cycling, public transport and other low carbon transport options;

b. work to improve the resource efficiency and health of homes, businesses and infrastructure in our district; and

c. support the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles.

The first plan change to the Operative District Plan was focussed on a stronger response to the need for greenhouse gas mitigation. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan Change (PC1 – operative September 2010) created a positive framework for energy efficient subdivision design and promotion of the use of renewable energy at a domestic and community scale. The 2015 consent for the expansion of the Ngahwa geothermal plant was a beneficiary of the enabling policy framework for renewables.

The consolidated review of the District Plan will focus on carbon reduction measures with a focus on:

  1. promoting the efficient use of infrastructure, tethered with more compact urban forms, reducing potential vehicle kilometres travelled

  2. Transport planning to achieve integrated land-use and transport patterns

  3. Promote urban sustainability through policies promoting passive solar design, integrated storm water management and water harvesting and quality compact and connected neighbourhoods

2. Work with our communities to understand, prepare for and respond to the physical impacts of climate change.

The draft policy framework for the new District Plan has identified that Hazard Resilience and Climate Change as a Significant Resource Management Issue. Policies in the draft are promoted in order to appropriately manage land use and subdivision in areas subject to the risk of natural hazards, where the potential effects of climate change have been factored in identifying the risk.

Whilst the new District Plan is being developed, the following are risk identification and community preparation roles currently delivered by FNDC

  1. Incorporating up to date climate change and sea level rise scenarios into land use planning processes

  2. New buildings and development subject to evidence based hazard management for coastal areas and floodplains as initiated by the Regional Policy Statement and managed through the District Plan and Building Act

  3. Avoiding residential intensification in areas at high risk from the effects of climate change through

  4. Council infrastructure strategy and asset management cycle to identify Council assets subject to high risk from the effects of climate change

  5. Cross council process, including Northland Regional Council, to work with communities at risk from the effects of climate change to prioritise asset management, safeguard communities, or where necessary develop programs to manage retreat from high risk areas – under the banner of Tai Tokerau Councils Climate Change Adaptation Group

3. Work with central government to deliver on national emission reduction targets and support resilience in our communities.”

Climate change is not an issue to be tackled in isolation. The Far North District Council already considers and responds to climate and climate variability through risk mitigation and asset management plans, through the District Plan and Long Term Plan and through other processes required in the delivery of services and facilities to the community. In effect, FNDC considers climate change within the context of existing resource management, risk-assessment, planning and policy-making processes.

Regards, Roger Ackers, Manager – Strategy Development

Compiled by Anna Dunford

#climatechange #greenhousegasemissions #localgovernment

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