The Government's request for "shovel ready" projects to create jobs once the country is out of lockdown has hit a snag in Auckland.

Several Auckland councillors are calling for projects that pass a climate-change test, while other councillors want employment and jobs to be the overriding criteria.

The divide is causing friction ahead of a workshop this afternoon where councillors will put forward their own ideas for a list to be approved at tomorrow's emergency committee meeting.

Environmentally-focused councillors have been lobbying officials to broaden the criteria for projects to be "climate positive" and align with council's targets of halving Auckland's emissions by 2030.


"We have concerns with the criteria provided by the Government. Shovel-ready projects are by definition planned and costed in yesterday's world, and so do not take into account the new future we are faced with," planning committee chairman Chris Darby said in a letter to chief executive co-signed by deputy chair Josephine Bartley.

In a separate letter from environment and community chairman Richard Hills and deputy chair Pippa Coom to the planning officer overseeing the work, John Dunshea, they said the exercise should not allow projects to be resurrected that are no longer fit for purpose.

Auckland councillor Richard Hills. Photo / Michael Craig
Auckland councillor Richard Hills. Photo / Michael Craig

Hills told the Herald council should not discount any project, but wanted to prioritise climate friendly public transport, water quality,environmental projects and the needs of Maori, Pasifika and young people.

He and Coom have drawn up a list of projects, including speeding up construction of cycleways and Safe Schools upgrades, bus electrification, council's water quality work programme and kauri dieback tracks.

Focus: Global Warming and Climate Change causes and effects. Video / AP / NASA

Both Hills and Darby told the Herald roading projects in greenfield areas, like Drury, were not appropriate at this time, although Darby said some roading projects and road renewals could be done.

Mayor Phil Goff said it is critical that projects meet the criteria set out by the Government.

When the Government launched the scheme eight days ago, it said they had to have a public or regional benefit, create jobs and be able to get underway in short order.

Goff said while the criteria is the primary consideration, he was aware there is interest in considering further criteria, which will be considered by councillors.


Councillor Daniel Newman said council has a duty to identify every shovel-ready project to help generate jobs to put New Zealanders back to work immediately.

"Putting bread on the table of New Zealanders is in the nation's interest, and that needs to be prioritised ahead of the personal interests of Auckland councillors. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"The boutique views about climate change need to be put to one side in order to save the livelihoods of families throughout Auckland," he said.

Newman said road sealing and road renewals are a fantastic opportunity to get people working immediately, saying they do not need resource consents, simply funding.