Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.
In my third instalment on Greater Wellington Regional Council's Long Term Plan consultation, it's time to dig into our environmental goals and regional leadership.
As mentioned in last week's column on our public transport options, thankfully climate change is no longer the elephant in the room.
That's a far cry from when I was first elected as a councillor on Kāpiti Coast District Council four terms ago.
And the appetite for communities to get stuck into environmental restoration has gathered speed and more of us learn and appreciate the benefits, well actually the imperatives, of restoring our natural environments.
One area that is a big focus for GWRC and where we can make a big difference is grazing in our regional parks, which has been a traditional activity in places such as Queen Elizabeth Park on the Kāpiti Coast and our neighbouring Battle Hill.
Today grazing makes up about 20 per cent of GWRC's carbon footprint, and recommendations are made in the LTP for that to end.
The solution favoured in the plan is to phase out grazing from 1350 hectares of the 2083 hectares of grazed parkland through reforestation and restoration of the land.
This approach would deliver many benefits.
It would simultaneously capture carbon while enhancing biodiversity, improving the quality of freshwater, reducing erosion and providing great recreation opportunities.
Addressing these and other issues, problems and opportunities effectively requires a regional approach — in particular challenges ahead with housing and urban development, economic development, transport and regional resilience.
With regard to regional leadership, for far-sighted, integrated and enduring regional planning we need to bring government, mana whenua and aligned territorial authorities together.
We've doing this by establishing Wellington Regional Leadership Joint Committee, and we're proposing through the plan to set up a secretariat to support the committee to make the big decisions around regional growth it will be entrusted with.
The plan's budget is significant. Between now and 2031 Greater Wellington will invest around $1.5 billion.
Inevitably, this will have to be funded by rates, but rises have been kept as low as possible.