Climate Change Committee meeting 1 March

Waste minimisation, town planning and emergency preparedness were key topics of discussion at the first meeting of the South Wairarapa District Council’s newly-created Climate Change and Environment committee this week (Wednesday 1 March).

The committee has been created to look more closely at how Council functions are seen through the lens of climate change.

Items included an update on the Ruamāhanga Strategy, the Council’s climate change strategy and reports from the Council’s planning and waste minimisation departments.

Committee Chair Cr Rebecca Gray said climate change touched nearly every function of Council business and the committee looked forward to exploring ways the district could be helped to face these challenges.

“We heard from our planners about how climate change resilience and good environmental management is being built into the development of our new communities as well as folded into how we manage and design our towns.

“We heard about the opportunity to change and improve how we deal with waste in the upcoming Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

“We also heard about how our Council is monitoring and decreasing its carbon footprint.

“This meeting gave us a good overview of how well we are doing so far but has also left us with an appetite for achieving much more.”

Work on the Ruamāhanga Strategy stems from a nation-wide agreement between councils to address climate change in 2015 (

A document shared by the South Wairarapa and Carterton district councils, it aims to reduce both councils’ carbon footprints, and lays out an action plan to 2033.

Between 2020 and 2030, both Councils have committed to:

  • Reduce their gross greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Increase the reservoirs, therefore the amount of greenhouse gas sequestered every year;
  • Reduce biogenic methane by 10% below 2017 levels.

Sky Halford, Council’s Climate Change Advisor, spoke to the Ruamāhanga Strategy and said some significant goals had already been achieved in terms of using renewable electricity, energy audits, and transitioning to hybrid cars. A healthy home assessment kit had also been made available through libraries.

More widely, South Wairarapa was participating in regional projects such as a climate change impact assessment, an emissions reduction strategy and a regional food systems strategy.

Suggestions from the Ruamāhanga strategy to be actioned, include:

  • A low carbon events policy
  • Installing water tanks on Council property
  • Increasing afforestation through tree planting on Council land
  • Wetland restoration
  • Implementing energy audit recommendations
  • Promoting renewable energy to ratepayers and businesses
  • Supporting the creation of a Wairarapa seed bank

Climate change was also front of mind in the planning space, said Russell O’Leary, Group Manager of Planning and Environment.

“Use, development and protection of land takes on a new light in terms of the effects of climate change,” he said.

“For example, the influence of climate change on the location and magnitude of flood hazards and what land use development should be allowed within these areas.

“There are also the effects that our land use has on climate change, such as emissions. The pattern and nature of urban development, as well as the ability to use and develop renewable energy, can influence the level of emissions.”

The existing Wairarapa Combined District Plan already considers climate change in relation to foreshore protection, renewable energy, flood hazards, and development and natural hazards along our coastlines.

The new draft District Plan develops these areas further, including a requirement for rainwater collection tanks for new dwellings in residential areas and more detail on renewable electricity generation for the future.

You can read more about these matters on our website

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