Media release from OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and
At today's hearings on Wellington's draft Regional Land
Transport Plan 2015, Dr Russell Tregonning, Executive Board member
of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, called for
an urgent health check of the Wellington region's latest Land
Dr Tregonning, a senior lecturer at Wellington's School of
Medicine, commended the plan's aims for a transport system that is
"resilient, reliable and easy to use" and "seeks to grow public
transport patronage". However, he warned that the plan "could not
achieve these aims by ignoring both climate damage from our fossil
fuel use and our growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart
disease, strokes and other ill-health from inactivity caused by
over-reliance on private transport".
The multi-billion dollar taxpayer and ratepayer-funded plan
concentrates 94 percent of its spending on new roads thus
discouraging active and public transport.
"The plan is heading in the wrong direction at a time when New
Zealand must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Dr
"More than a billion dollars for Roads of National Significance in
Wellington city is better invested in all-electric public transport
- with light rail back on the agenda.
"This region urgently needs a high-quality network of frequent,
high-capacity public transport and safe attractive cycle-ways and
footpaths. We need to play our part in stabilising climate changes
by moving towards a zero emissions transport system - not locking
ourselves into old-style transport that attracts cars, creates
congestion, and damages our health and our future.
"We know that around half of New Zealanders do not get enough
regular exercise, and we know that two-thirds of us struggle to
maintain a healthy weight. The health gains from regular exercise
like walking to work (which includes that involved in public
transport), as well as cycling are well-proven.
"OraTaiao calls for an immediate health impact assessment of this
draft regional transport plan, which analyses the plan's impact on
climate change and health equity. We need a plan that works for
this century, not the tired old thinking of the past."