Greater Wellington proposes bold new Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington region
Greater Wellington Regional Council has approved key proposals for change to its Regional Policy Statement which would implement directions required by the Government’s National Policy Statements on Urban Development and Freshwater Management. The proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS Change 1) will now go out for public consultation.
The council has also aligned RPS Change 1 with the exposure draft of the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, and integrated aspects of the Wellington Regional Growth Framework and the Regional Climate Emergency Response programme.
RPS Change 1 lays the ground for achieving carbon net-zero by 2050 and begins to address the degradation of freshwater in the region.
Submissions on proposed changes open on 19 August 2022 and close on 14 October 2022 at 5pm.
Change 1 would modify Greater Wellington’s RPS, introducing a new chapter on climate change which sets out an extensive range of objectives and policies designed to contribute to meeting binding climate change targets.
Key climate change outcomes of the proposed change would include a commitment by Greater Wellington to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which would enable the region to reach carbon net-zero by 2050.
Other targets would result in a 35 per cent reduction in emissions from land transport as well as a 60 per cent reduction from public transport and a 40 per cent increase in cycling, walking and public transport use by 2030.
“These are ambitious goals supported by an equally ambitious range of policies. We are proposing, strong yet necessary change in the face of rapidly advancing climate change,” says Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter.
“There will be a clear and continuing focus on policies designed to reduce the rising rate of transport emissions. These will include encouraging mode shift through delivering excellent bus and train public transport and increasing the attraction of active travel through encouraging safe and connected walking and cycling options. We will also accelerate the move to electric vehicles both for private and commercial use.
“Some of these initiatives are already in play. We’re encouraging government investment in the regional rail plan and planning for new electrically powered trains, and full electrification of the bus fleet by 2030. But bringing all this together under our RPS will sharpen our intent.”
RPS Change 1 mode shift requirements would also flow through to district and regional plans through consenting requirements that would require travel demand management plans which minimise private vehicle use in favour of public transport.
Cr Ponter also noted that Change 1 will significantly influence the shape of the region’s cities and towns through encouraging urban intensification that will lead to low emissions infrastructure and new housing development around travel corridors.
“The key to change will be thriving centres where everything you need is a 15-minute walk away, linked throughout the region by efficient public transport and active travel networks that make private car use frankly unnecessary most of the time.”
An equally important focus of RPS Change 1 is the measures it mandates to address degradation of freshwater and partial implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM).
“Also at the heart of the change is a focus on arresting the degradation of freshwater. It will strengthen existing provisions for protecting biodiversity and restoring native ecosystems.”
“It will also incorporate Te Mana o te Wai, which encompasses principles relating to the roles of mana whenua / tangata whenua and other New Zealanders in the management of freshwater. These principles inform this RPS and its implementation, and the broad range of initiatives we plan under it will raise the quality of freshwater in the region.
“Aligning national and regional policies is vital for protecting our climate and our freshwater. We welcome public feedback on this important change.”
Members of the public can make submissions from tomorrow online using the submissions form, by emailing email@example.com or by post to Environmental Policy, PO Box 11646, Manners St, Wellington 6142. Go to www.gw.govt.nz/rpschange1 for more information.
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