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Businesses put forward plan to accelerate Auckland

Embargoed until 5pm
September 21, 2010

Media Release

Businesses put forward plan to accelerate Auckland

Senior business leaders today deliver top officials and Mayoral candidates a report outlining policies which they say will turn New Zealand’s first mega city into a greater economic power house.

If the new Auckland Council follows the advice it will also improve the new super city’s quality of life and environment at the same time.

The 45 page report, from CEOs and member companies of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, also puts forward a four step plan for the new council to follow in its first 100 days.

The Business Council says the new council needs to bring decision makers and the community together for a three day “accelerated development” meeting before the end of January – to “engage the silent majority”. This would ensure there is widespread buy-in on what should go into the all important “One Plan”, including the spatial plan, which will officially guide future policy.

The Business Council says a truly sustainable approach to city government and development will deliver faster economic growth, while also dealing with pockets of social deprivation, improving the environment and making the city more attractive to businesses and migrants.

The Business Council puts forward several examples of policies the super city could consider which would deliver these major benefits, and also tackle the issues which its own polling shows most concern Aucklanders. These including traffic congestion, crime, local government inefficiency, air pollution, ageing infrastructure and finding long term capital funding for development.

The report also cites several examples of major potential savings from adopting a holistic sustainable development approach – and some of the costs it says residents are now bearing because of a lack of it.

For example, it says:

• The super city should look at tackling major transport issues, like congestion and rapidly diminishing capacity to handle the region’s freight growth, with measures like congestion pricing to use express lanes at busy times. It cites similar systems overseas which have cut traffic 25% while growing retail sales by 6%
• A door-to-door mini-bus based public transport system
• A whole-of-life cost approach to buying the city’s goods and services, which would deliver power bill savings of more than $30 million a year and cut vehicle fleet costs by tens of millions
• Changes to waste recovery, so current practices, like waste co-mingling which results in as little as 30% of collected glass being recycled and threatens some export-related jobs in Auckland
• Using prices to encourage innovators and discourage those imposing costs on the community (like air polluters), and
• Using technology to create new opportunities, specially speedy and efficient electronic management of residents’ relationships with the council, including introducing all-electronic resource consents processing
• Encouraging the use of rainwater tanks and home generated power to deliver major infrastructure investment savings and environmental and quality of life improvements.

The Business Council cites things already being done by some of the eight councils being brought within the new city, including generating money from new uses for organic waste, diverting seaweed tossed up by storm surges to compost, diverting organic waste to worm digesters, avoiding landfill fees, and sustainable power buying and power use - now saving the equivalent of a 1% a year rates rise in one constituent city.

It also cites several examples of money saving and clean-growth policies used within New Zealand, and by overseas megacities, which also improve the environment and quality of life and asks: “If they can do it, why not you?”

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says member companies, like Siemens, Beca and IBM, have experience in working with mega cities worldwide to help them become sustainable.

Auckland has to achieve greater and sustainable economic growth to also help lift the national economy.

“The new Mayor and councilors and officials have a major early opportunity to deliver this by putting in place systems which stop the new council making decisions in silos, rather than in a coordinated way to deliver a better and truly sustainable city,” Mr Neilson says.

Business Council members were meeting at 3pm today with the new Auckland Council Chief Planning Officer, Dr Roger Blakeley, and other senior new-council managers, to discuss the report and possible advice they can deliver to the incoming council on November 1.

Both Mayoral candidates John Banks and Len Brown have offered to include Business Council members in the advisory groups they set up.

The Business Council has conducted extensive research across New Zealand and the super city in the past month on what citizens think the councils, which they will elect by postal ballot by October 9, should tackle as a priority to address issues having negative effects on their households.

The research results and full report, “Creating a Sustainable Super City – How to accelerate Auckland”, are available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz

ENDS

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