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Kiwis keen on zoning changes


Flooding of houses on State Highway 2 in March. PHOTO/FILE


A new climate change survey found that 74 per cent of New Zealanders want councils to zone land to reduce and avoid the impact of climate change, a 10 per cent increase from 2021.

This comes as the three Wairarapa councils sent their submissions on the government’s draft national adaptation plan, and said they had concerns about the objective to avoid development in places that could be more exposed to climate impacts.

The councils recommended government set up a threshold to identify places where the climate impacts were lower, but not insignificant.

It said in areas where impacts would be lower, development should be allowed if the assets were adapted to those impacts.

“We ask central government to set a threshold for what is classed as a high climate risk area.”

The councils also asked government to fund local councils to identify where their areas of current and potential “very high” climate impacts are located.

“And we ask for a clear central government mandate to stop any future building in those zones or areas.”

The councils gave an example of buildings requiring a higher floor level or on piles to avoid the building from being flooded.

NZI, State, and AMI, chief executive Amanda Whiting said survey results confirmed what had been seen for the past five years – New Zealanders were concerned about the impacts of climate change, they wanted clear direction, and they wanted action.

“Over the past three years, we have consistently seen about 75 per cent of people say that they want central and local government to invest in building infrastructure that reduces the impact of climate change.”

Whiting said there had also been an increase in the number of people who wanted councils to zone land to reduce and avoid the impact of climate change, now 74 per cent.

Whiting said the most important thing that could be done was to ensure people were safe from the impacts of natural disasters.

“For us, that means working with central and local government to help ensure there is greater investment in flood prevention measures and other solutions that either protect people or move them out of harm’s way.”

The survey found that New Zealanders didn’t think the national response was not appropriate or fast enough.

However, fewer people were taking individual action to combat the effects of climate change.

The survey found the number of people who said they were taking individual action dropped from 69 per cent in 2021 to 64 per cent in 2022.

Climate scientist and professor of physical geography at Victoria University James Renwick said with the recent spate of fires, heatwaves, and floods around the world, it was no surprise to see a big increase in the number of people saying impacts were happening now.

“But beyond the concern, there’s a lot of confusion, and a need for education and clear messages about actions we can all take.”

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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