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The state of our changing environment



10 July 2006

The state of our changing environment

Auckland City will launch its latest Our Changing Environment 2004 to 2005 report this August.

The report is the City’s fourth comprehensive assessment of Auckland city’s state of environment and is an indispensable document in the fight to improve the environmental health of our city.

Councillor Christine Caughey, chairperson of the Environment, Heritage and Urban Form Committee, says the report provides Auckland with factual, timely and accessible information about the condition of and prospects for aspects of the environment.

“The Our Changing Environment report is a key document in the delivery of strong environmental policy and acknowledges the important steps that council, industry and residents have taken during the past three years to address the environmental pressures which the 2002 report identified," says Ms Caughey. "It also identifies the major challenges that lie ahead for Auckland city."

These challenges include global warming, air quality, energy efficiency, climate change, hazardous substances, contaminated land, noise, urban growth and waste. With this information, Auckland City can acknowledge areas of concern and identify where targets must be set for future work.

“Global warming is one of the key issues that make this report so important. The international scientific community is focusing on environment and air quality, and the input of human activity on its degradation.

“Auckland City is similarly working on identifying areas of concern and where targets must be set for future work,” Ms Caughey said. “Monitoring is one way we can better understand these issues and ensure that our actions are heading in the right direction.

“For council, the information gathered is essential in assessing how well we are meeting our targets for sustainable management, whether our policies are appropriate and effective or whether change is needed.”

The report confirms that Auckland City has been most effective in tackling environmental problems particularly in heritage protection, and implementation of energy efficient initiatives.

“Despite improvements in these areas there is no room for complacency. New targets and monitoring of areas of concern must be set,” says Ms Caughey.

While some results show noticeable improvement, others provide cause for concern.

The volumes of waste being sent to landfill continues to increase, moving further from the target of zero waste to landfills by 2020. In spite of a growing use of public transport, health-based guideline levels of nitrogen dioxide were exceeded 26 times in the year to December 2005 in comparison with nine times in 2003.

Ms Caughey said that over the coming months, actions to contribute to the resolution of these and other issues will be identified and implemented.

“Though this may prove to be a difficult task, in order to ensure we continue to move towards achieving our vision for Auckland city as the First City of the Pacific we need to continue to strive to reduce our impacts on the environment," says Ms Caughey.

The state of the environment report will be forwarded to the Mayoral Task Force on Sustainability for assessment and further identification of key areas of focus for Auckland City policy and action.

The council is legally required to provide information about the city’s environmental status every five years and publishes summary updates to track progress in the interim years.

The report covers:

- the key pressures on environmental quality

- the city's current environmental state and trends

- what council is doing to manage these pressures.


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