by Tim Jones
Another year has gone by, and we still don’t know what will be in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving Recommended Programme of Investment – in other words, the Ngauranga to Airport transport plan that we’ve been awaiting for the last three years.
It often seems as though the whole thing will end up as a messy political compromise. But what if the guiding principles were such things as:
- making Wellington liveable
- making Wellington fair, safe and healthy
- making Wellington beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich?
And what if, in place of Let’s Get Welly Moving’s continued refusal to treat the climate change impact of its plans as a key or even important factor, a central goal of their work was to ensure zero greenhouse gas emissions from Wellington transport by 2040?
Does that sound like a pipe dream? It isn’t. Because Councillor Roger Blakeley, with input from a number of people with community expertise in Wellington transport, has come up with a plan to do all that and more. And he presented it to the 2018 Save the Basin Campaign Annual General Meeting:
We encourage you to read it. We encourage you to think about it. And we encourage you to support it – or, if you wish, suggest further improvements.
It’s great to see one of our elected representatives engaging in detail with the work that needs to be done to make Wellington a city fit for its residents – and fit for the future. Thanks, Roger!
Guest post by Liz Springford
This case study from Liz’s Productivity Commission Low Emissions Economy submission is a powerful critique of LGWM’s failure to apply adequate cost-benefit analysis that includes climate change and other health costs.
Case study: Let’s Get Wellington Moving
The recent “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” (or not) joint project between NZTA, GWRC and WCC is a case study of the failure to apply adequate cost-benefit analysis that includes climate change and other health costs.
In 2016, WCC agreed on a Low Carbon Plan 2016-2018 with city-wide targets for reduced emissions by 10% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. When Wellington’s emissions were last measured a few years ago, these had dropped less than 2% from baseline. The Plan acknowledges that more than half of Wellington’s emissions are from transport. GWRC has a Climate Strategy to reduce regional emissions, although no specific targets.
Although both Councils’ plan and strategy need updating to match NZ’s new net zero trajectory by 2050, Wellington’s emissions reductions targets were not included in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving consultation. Instead, a vague “Clean and Green” principle to “improve environmental outcomes for Wellington city and the region” was amongst a dozen principles – in response to the first wave of public consultation.
Four scenarios were presented for public consultation late last year. This was basically, one scenario in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large – ranging from “a little more active and public transport provision plus a little more roading”, to “a lot of active and public transport provision plus a lot of roading”. The capacity of improved active and public transport to decongest existing roading provision was ignored. Likewise, induced increases in private fossil fuelled vehicles by increasing roading provision were also ignored.
Climate impact analysis was limited to noting under the “Clean and Green” principle that for each sized scenario there will be “No significant change to greenhouse gas emission at a regional level”. Construction costs of each scenario were detailed for the public, but not the running costs – that is, the impact on Wellington’s transport emissions contributing to the ongoing operational costs over the lifetime of the infrastructure.
Another wave of public consultation appears to have sent a strong climate-protecting message. However, this case study indicates the urgency in introducing accurate up-to-date shadow pricing across the state sector and influencing local government to follow suit. Delay risks wasting taxes and rates, plus inheriting high-emissions white elephant infrastructure that limits our capacity to move towards net zero NZ fast enough.
Up to 310 extra heavy trucks a day rumbling from quarries in Horokiwi and Ngauranga, down State Highway 1, through the Terrace Tunnel, past the Basin Reserve, through the Mt Victoria Tunnel, and on through residential streets to Wellington Airport, day and night, for up to 3 years – and then rumbling back.
That’s what Wellington International Airport Ltd wants to inflict on Wellington’s residents and ratepayers. They are seeking $90 million from Wellington City Council, and more again from other Wellington-region councils and central government, to extend Wellington Airport runway 363 metres into Lyall Bay. And their resource consent application makes it clear the scale of the disruption their plans will entail.
There are many arguments against this plan – and you will find a lot of them on the Guardians of the Bays website. But even people who may not be opposed to a runway extension per se need to pay attention to the construction traffic implications, because they are serious both for road users and for those living near the planned route who value their lifestyle – and their sleep.
If you like a long read, Technical Report 9 is the core of the matter. This shows that the airport company wants to run up to 30 trucks an hour – that’s up to one truck every two minutes – through their central Wellington route during these times:
- 9:30am to 2:30pm weekdays; and
- 10:00pm to 6:00am weekdays.
So, in trying to avoid peak-hour and school pickup traffic, the airport company has opted for truck movements throughout the night instead. And it’s not just on State Highway 1 – the current plan envisages those trucks rumbling down suburban streets in Kilbirnie and Rongotai as well: day after day, night after night.
Right now, Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington and the airport company are batting the resource consent application back and forth. The Councils have expressed serious concern about the airport company’s construction traffic plans, and there may yet be changes before the resource consent application is publicly notified.
But unless the airport company’s plans change radically, you might want to ask yourself: does the Wellington transport system really need another 310 heavy trucks going back and forth a day? And do I want those trucks rumbling through my suburb? And if your answer is “no”, then you might want to make a submission about that when you get the chance in a few weeks’ time.
In the meantime, you can:
Submissions on Wellington City Council’s Low Carbon Capital Plan close on Friday – and now there’s a helpful submission guide you can use, prepared by Wellington climate action group Keep a Cool World.
Why should you submit? Because Wellington City Council has learned how to talk a good game on climate change, while continuing to make decisions that result in increased greenhouse gas emissions that make climate change worse – like supporting further road-building that will lead to increased emissions from induced traffic, or backing an airport runway extension that, if it goes ahead, is projected to lead to a major increase in both truck movements through the central city, and aviation emissions.
Wellington City Council claims to be a leader on climate change action, but for that claim to be credible, its actions have to match its words.
The Keep a Cool World submission guide takes you through some good points you can make, but please adapt it to make the submission your own – cookie cutter submissions are generally less effective!
You can submit as follows:
- Online: use the form at https://submissions.wellington.govt.nz/submission.aspx (The Low Carbon Capital Plan is part on WCC’s Annual Plan)
- by email to BUSAnnualPlan@wcc.govt.nz
- by letter to:
2016/17 Annual Plan
Freepost Wellington City Council
PO Box 2199
(If you are submitting by post, you’ll have to be very quick to meet the deadline! There’s a printable submission form at http://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/have-your-say/public-input/files/consultations/2016/03-annual-plan/printable-form.pdf)
Remember, the deadline is this Friday – so please act today!