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Regional council welcomes climate change report

Media release

6 August 2013

The climate change report by the Government’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman is a welcome contribution to the debate about the resilience of Wellington’s infrastructure, says Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde, who is also chair of the region’s Lifelines Group.

The report, New Zealand’s changing climate and oceans: The impact of human activity and implications for the future, outlines scientific understandings of climate change and the way it could affect New Zealand in the future.

Ms Wilde says the report’s conclusions confirm what the council, other science bodies in the region and the Lifelines Group had already established - that significant infrastructure vulnerabilities need to be addressed to ensure future resilience.

“Regional Councils are responsible for much of the vital infrastructure that will be impacted by climate change. Other critical partners are central government and the private sector. It is critical that we collectively review and understand what measures are required to establish the degree of resilience that can maintain a functioning community, even after a large natural event.

“It was interesting to note that the Gluckman report used a photo of the recent washout of the Hutt rail line as an example of the impact of a major storm. I have already written to Prime Minister John Key to request that the Government take into account the impact of climate change on the transport corridor between Wellington and the Hutt Valley and asked that the government work with the region to address the challenges that climate change are causing to the viability of the rail line – and possibly the road in the longer term.

“This stretch of rail and road is currently being investigated to decide the best transport solutions, work which includes looking at a proposed cycleway. However, resolution of the bigger resilience issues may well be outside the normal funding envelope of NZTA and KiwiRail, so it is imperative that central and local government work closely to determine and fund solutions that will be sustainable over a long period.

“While Peter Gluckman’s report is a good step in understanding the gravity of the situation, in Wellington there is a real need for action. This will require political gumption and I look forward to having this discussion with the government,” Wilde said.

ENDS


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