Hamilton City Council has adopted a set of environment principles to guide project planning and decisions and to make sure possible environmental impacts are considered upfront.
A report to yesterday’s Environment Committee meeting noted that the principles were directly related to improving residents’ wellbeing, which is now a key purpose of local government.
Committee Chair Margaret Forsyth said the principles were a solid starting point for Council. They recognised environmental impact needs to be carefully considered before projects begin so staff and Council can find opportunities to improve environmental wellbeing.
“At the heart of these principles is the acknowledgement our natural environment is the foundation of the city and delivers significant benefits to Hamiltonians. We have a chance to enhance those benefits by thinking carefully about the way we go about projects,” Cr Forsyth said.
“Decisions we make today will help decide the sort of Hamilton future generations will be living, working and playing in. We all have a responsibility to make sure those decisions are forward-looking.”
The principles are:
- Restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of our waterways;
- Protecting and enhancing our natural taonga, whenua and biodiversity;
- Embracing the sustainable use of resources;
- Promoting a circular economy;
- Transitioning to a low carbon future;
- Build our resilience to climate change.
Mayor Paula Southgate said it was simply not possible to have a healthy, vibrant city without a healthy environment.
“I don’t expect any project to come before Council without these principles having been taken into account,” she said.
The Mayor said staff would now develop an Environment Policy based on the principles.
The Committee was also told Council’s greenhouse gas emissions reduced 4.5% in the last financial year. The figure excludes biogenic methane – emissions from biological sources like wastewater treatment.
Reducing carbon emissions is a key measure in Hamilton City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, which aims to cut Council emissions by 50% by 2030.
Staff noted the impact of COVID-19 on the measure, with the majority of staff not journeying to and from work or travelling around the city during the lockdowns. New practices like a move to low-emission fleet vehicles and staff more regularly working from home should help maintain momentum, however.
Cr Forsyth said taking positive action was just as important in addressing climate change.
“We do need to keep focused on reducing our emissions but we also contribute through such activities as our ongoing planting programme. Our team planted 93,000 plants in city parks and 1000 street trees last year, which shows we’re making a commitment to climate change action in our everyday operations,” she said.