Group claims council’s long term plan is unlawful
The lobby group that successfully challenged Thames Coromandel District Council on climate change says the council’s long-term plan may be unlawful. Hauraki Coromandel Climate Action (HCCA) has written to the mayor and TCDC councillors urging them to obtain legal advice before the LTP is formally approved. “HCCA consider that the draft LTP does not comply with the Local Government Act 2002; the Climate Change Response Act 2002, and other applicable legal requirements because there is minuscule budget provision for projects and activities which reduce emissions,” HCCA chairman Denis Tegg said. The group points to the “Roads and Footpaths” section in which it says less than 0.5 per cent of budget is assigned to activities such as urban cycleways which might reduce emissions, from a total projected expenditure of $125 million over 10 years. “Despite many submissions calling for significant emissions reductions, there are scant budgeted activities to transition to low carbon energy or transport or to promote mode shift. “On any rational analysis the draft LTP must lead to an increase in emissions over the next 10 years when a substantial decrease is required,” he said. “HCCA believe this is contrary to the Local Government Act which requires the council to work for the benefit of future generations. HCCA is also of the opinion that the council is required to have regard to the emission reduction target in the Climate Change Response Act when drafting and adopting the LTP. HCCA says TCDC has failed to do this.” TCDC spokeswoman Laurna White said the LTP consultation document establishes that the council has recognised the challenges of climate change and is working to mitigate and prepare for those challenges. “Council considered all public submissions including the submission made by HCCA as part of the LTP process. More recent correspondence received from the HCCA is being considered by council staff. “When the LTP is finalised and adopted on 30 June it will clearly reference the work council has done to comply with the necessary statutory requirements, including those relevant to climate change.” She said the council’s greenhouse gas emissions working party also continued to identify and progress work to address reduction of greenhouse gases. HCCA’S legal analysis closely follows the legal submission made by Lawyers for Climate Action to Auckland City Council, which concluded that its draft Regional Land Transport Plan was unlawful as it projected an increase in transport emissions. Recently the High Court ruled in favour of HCCA which sought a judicial review of the decision of the TCDC to not sign the Local Government Leaders Climate Declaration. The court ruled TCDC’S decision was unlawful and ordered it to reconsider.