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National Adaptation Plan consultation ‘rushed’

Heavy, continual rain is a threat to New Zealand, particularly rural areas. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Three Wairarapa council bosses say consultation on the Government’s draft National Adaptation Plan [NAP] for climate change was “rushed”.

The NAP sets the direction for how New Zealand would adapt to the impacts of climate change and how it would address key climate risks up to 2028.

It would determine how best New Zealand should respond and fund costs associated with extreme weather events and “managed retreat” where areas become uninhabitable.

Chief executives from South Wairarapa, Carterton, and Masterton councils have told the Ministry for the Environment that “less than six weeks to prepare, review and approve a submission is a very tight timeframe on such an important piece of work”.

“We also have strong concerns that the ministry will not have enough time to suffici

ently and robustly consider the submissions received and modify the Draft National Adaptation Plan accordingly if the final version of the plan is due in August as currently planned.”

Consultation on the draft plan started on April 28 and closed on June 3, giving Wairarapa councils just over a month to read the draft plan, draft a submission, and discuss it with council staff and elected members.
In that time, key staff were on bereavement and covid leave.

One elected member said they were only given three days to provide feedback to inform the joint council submission.

Actions in the draft NAP are centred around: reforming institutions to be fit for a changing climate; providing data, information, and guidance to enable everyone to assess and reduce their own climate risks; and embedding climate resilience across government strategies and policies.

The councils’ submission stated they agreed with the vision, purpose, and goals of the draft NAP.

The council submission also recommended that the Government prioritise nature-based solutions as soon as possible, rather than being part of future work programme proposals as outlined in the draft NAP.

But at a Masterton District Council meeting, a handful of councillors signalled they did not support the submission.

Councillor David Holmes said local knowledge and solutions were of the utmost importance when it came to setting regulations.

“To be told by the Government what we are to do, I really oppose that.”

Councillor Tina Nixon shared similar sentiments.

“We’re the ones who should be setting strategy and policy, and this document reflects the thinking of some councillors, but not all councillors,” she said.

“I don’t feel like I have had enough of a say or enough of an impact on the submission, considering I’m an elected member, and that is what I’m here for.”

A Ministry for the Environment spokesperson said engagement with local government began months before the formal six-week consultation period and that the ministry provided further opportunities for local government to share their views.

“Local government remain one of the most significant groups we want to hear from in developing the final national adaptation plan,” the spokesperson said.

“We held workshops and webinars specially for local government throughout the draft plan consultation.

“We’ve also had the benefit of a local government advisory group representing this sector since October 2021.”

They said engagement with local government continued as the ministry developed the final plan for release in August. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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