City environmental strategy step closer

A Dunedin City Council strategy aimed at protecting the city's environment and meeting challenges faced by climate change is one step closer to being adopted.

The council's community and environment committee yesterday voted in favour of adopting its environment strategy, dubbed Te Ao Turoa (The Natural World), following extensive consultation with the public.

The the three goals of the strategy were:

1.Dunedin is resilient and zero carbon.
2.Dunedin has a healthy environment.
3.Dunedin people care for the environment.

Cr Neville Peat highlighted the importance of the strategy, saying it ‘‘belonged to everyone'' and not just ‘‘greenies''.

Looking after the environment was an important part of maintaining the city's economy, particularly when it came to ecotourism.

‘‘They are two sides of the one coin.''

Chairwoman Jinty MacTavish said there was still a lot of work to be done to establish what the baseline situation was for the city's environment.

She was keen to acknowledge the desire from submitters for council to set targets, so its performance against the strategy could be measured.

To that end she added an amendment calling on milestone targets for the strategy to be reported back to council by the end of next year.

These targets could not be included in the current document because of the lack of baseline data.

She said the level of collaboration with Kai Tahu on the strategy should be celebrated, and acknowledged the group of experts from the University of Otago and farming and business communities who had given their time and helped ‘‘transform'' the strategy.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said residents had sent a clear message they wanted the council to take action around climate change and maintaining and improving biodiversity. He was pleased the draft strategy had been strengthened when it came to these two areas as a result of that feedback.

A staff report said the goal of Dunedin being a resilient and zero carbon was listed first to reflect feedback from the community on the strategy.

Almost half of 97 submitters called for a reduction in carbon emissions with the aim of Dunedin becoming a low-carbon or carbon-neutral city.

Funding of $150,000 to deliver on the goals of the strategy had been proposed as part of the 2016-17 annual plan.

If the strategy is given final approval at June's full council meeting, it will join six other strategies which have already been adopted to inform council decision-making.

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