Continuing our significant levels of investment in Nelson’s core infrastructure is of fundamental importance to Council. Despite being largely unseen, our infrastructure provides the foundation for our city to develop, grow, thrive, and meet central government requirements.
The Long Term Plan proposes to invest $491 million in transport, water supply, wastewater, solid waste, stormwater and flood protection projects over the life of this Long Term Plan. This equates to 73% of Council’s total capital programme. In addition, approximately 49% of Council’s operational expenditure is allocated to these services. Learn more in the Infrastructure Strategy.
We have worked to balance affordability for ratepayers with furthering the resilience of the community. This balancing exercise is a complex one, so we want to hear what you think.
To ensure Nelson's wellbeing is supported by our infrastructure, we have emphasised responsible and targeted infrastructure work programmes.
Council invests in renewals and upgrades to our infrastructure cyclically and a large number of water and wastewater renewal and upgrade projects are on the horizon from 2030 onwards, so Council is bringing some forward to spread the load. This work will have the added benefits of enabling intensification, reducing the risk of wastewater overflows, improving water supply flows and pressures, and addressing central government initiatives. Dealing with higher risk elements for wastewater, such as overflows, also responds to community concern about discharges into the freshwater and coastal marine environment. This necessary expenditure over the next ten years of this Long Term Plan is $165 million of capital expenditure.
Council is proposing to prioritise these key projects within the upcoming Long Term Plan:
This is the last stage of a multi-million dollar investment in upgrading Saxton Creek from Champion Road to the sea. The upgrade of the Creek between Champion Road and Main Road Stoke will be completed by June 2021, and Stage 4 is scheduled for completion by 2023/24.
A total of $20 million has been budgeted for Stage 4 (Main Road Stoke to the sea) in the Long Term Plan, funded in part by central government through a grant of $7.5 million from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (which is also being used in 2020/21).
This project seeks to provide safe, affordable and sustainable flood management for the City Centre, to achieve acceptable levels of risk for urban areas within the Maitai River floodplain. The project was signalled in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan and is at an early stage of options identification.
Community engagement is planned for the next three years, to raise awareness of current and future flood risk, and align flood mitigation options with community priorities. $830,000 has been budgeted for these investigations and the development of designs. A further $9.8 million has been allocated as a placeholder in 2024/25 – 2030/31 for implementation of options that reduce flood risk within the floodplain, including areas potentially susceptible to coastal inundation.
It is anticipated that this project will span multiple decades, and that flood protection will be upgraded over time as existing structures require renewal, and to respond to the effects of climate change on flood risk.
A large portion of Nelson’s water supply and wastewater network was installed between 1950 and 1970. Over the next three decades a large portion of this network will be due for renewal. To manage this workload Council has budgeted in the order of $20 million for water supply pipeline renewals and $20 million for wastewater pipeline renewals in this Long Term Plan.
The NRSBU was established in 2000 by the Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council, with costs shared between the councils and the major industrial users. Its purpose is to manage and operate the wastewater treatment facilities at Bell Island and the associated reticulation network efficiently and in accordance with resource consent conditions to meet the needs of its customers.
Priorities for the NRSBU include the commitment to measure and reduce gas emissions, increased capital expenditure over the next ten years for infrastructure renewals, pipeline upgrades to accommodate future growth and pond desludging and increased operational expenditure to cater for maintenance contract costs.
Total capital expenditure for the next ten years is $58.4 million (uninflated) and operating costs are approximately $10.5 million per annum.
The current resource consent is due to expire in December 2024, and work commenced in 2019 to prepare for its renewal. The proposal is to ensure that the existing facility will continue to operate in its existing location until its long term future is decided.
This approach underpins our rising main renewal strategy, which allows us to plan for and implement the renewal of the Atawhai Rising Main - the main pipe feeding the wastewater treatment facility.
Planning work will commence slightly earlier than originally proposed for the renewal of this key lifeline asset, that conveys half the City’s wastewater from Neale Park Pump Station to the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Plant. The renewal of this key asset will be split into three stages, with the first stage being undertaken in the next 10 years with a budget of $23 million. This work is based on an assumption that Nelson’s wastewater treatment plant will continue to be located north of Atawhai.
The Future Development Strategy has identified parts of the Central City as areas which will need additional capacity over the first 10 years of the Infrastructure Strategy. As capacity increases so too will demand for services and infrastructure.
Nelson works in close partnership with Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) to deliver positive outcomes for the region. Waka Kotahi takes its direction from the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021-24 (GPS) that sets the Government’s priorities for land transport investment over the next 10 year period.
Key transport outcomes of the GPS are Inclusive Access, Health and Safe People, Economic Prosperity, Environmental Sustainability, and Resilience and Security.
The four strategic priorities of the GPS are Safety, Better Travel Options, Climate Change and Improving Freight Connections. Addressing congestion is not a specific priority.
Each Regional Council is required to prepare a Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) and a Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) that gives effect to the GPS. These documents are prepared in partnership with Waka Kotahi and are used to access funding from the National Land Transport Fund.
Waka Kotahi assists Council by way of a subsidy, called the Funding Assistance Rate (FAR) to fund aspects of our transport programme work. For Nelson this FAR is 51% and includes assistance for maintenance and operations of existing assets (such as footpaths, roads, streetlights and traffic signals) as well as assistance for new projects (such as roads and footpaths) and programme improvements such as public transport.
Funding for the ongoing routine operations and maintenance of our City’s roading network has been included in the RLTP and Long Term Plan and is separate to any Nelson Future Access funding. Waka Kotahi 100% funds all state highway networks.
Most transport projects are only affordable if they qualify for subsidy.
Waka Kotahi has however signalled that the NLTF is facing considerable funding constraints, with overall investment in the land transport system expected to increase from $18.5 billion (2018-21) to $20.8 billion (2021-24). Significant programmes are already underway across the country which will require more than 90% of the anticipated revenue from the NLTF to meet existing commitments and to fund programmes at current levels of service.
As a result, Waka Kotahi has advised it is not currently approving funding for any new delivery projects in this NLTP period (2018-2021) but will continue to monitor and review the situation.
Transport is the second biggest carbon emitter in New Zealand, behind agriculture. Changing our attitudes to transport and how we use it will be critical to achieving climate change targets. In light of this, Council is adopting sustainability and climate change targets consistent with central government’s stated priorities, including those outlined in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021.
Council is encouraging the community to transition to more sustainable modes - choosing active transport (including walking, cycling, skateboarding, riding scooters), and public transport more often for their journeys. This will support social and environmental wellbeing, and reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. A reduction in car use (particularly single occupancy vehicles) will also contribute to improved traffic flows, and has the potential to reduce the need for investment in major road upgrades.
To make progress in our region, investment and support will be required from Waka Kotahi for a variety of projects and programmes that support a move toward a more sustainable transport system. There is a risk that if that Waka Kotahi funding support is not possible or less than expected we may not achieve modal shift and current congestion levels may worsen.
The NFA is led by central government through Waka Kotahi, working with Council and local iwi. Council is not leading this project, but is a heavily involved party, engaged in decision-making and responding to central government’s decisions.
The NFA will help us plan a transport system that is fundamental to shaping our city and providing vital access for people, goods and services to key hubs (including our Airport and Port) that are essential to our wellbeing and economic success. The outcomes will reflect initiatives that work for everyone by identifying an investment programme that supports the community’s aspirations for a thriving City Centre, a healthy environment, and response to our climate objectives. The strategic direction in the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) fully supports the NFA, which aims to confirm the best way to provide a long-term (30 year) safe, accessible and resilient transport system that supports economic prosperity and meets the diverse needs of our community.
Waka Kotahi has advised that the NFA project (including the Rocks Rd walking and cycling facility) is running significantly behind time and that no decisions on packages of activities have been made yet. This means that Council has been unable to place any specific work related to this project in the Long Term Plan (or RLTP) other than general placeholders for the NFA project over the next 10 years. Placeholder funding will be aimed at improving safety and encouraging active travel. This placeholder funding will still attract, if approved, Waka Kotahi subsidy.
Placeholder funding of $30.2 million over 10 years has been provided in this Long Term Plan, which includes an amount of $15.4 million from Waka Kotahi subsidy, based on a 51% FAR.
Completion of the NFA business case still requires careful consideration of the environmental factors relating to working within the coastal marine area, as well as the feedback from residents, transport system users and other stakeholders and partners.
An agreed package of activities will need to be included in the final business case, and the business case endorsed by Nelson City Council and approved by Waka Kotahi, before Waka Kotahi can consider funding. The NFA business
case will not be completed before the Long Term Plan or RLTP is finalised but Waka Kotahi has advised that it is committed to completing this work in a timely way. Once the business case is completed the RLTP will need to be amended to include the relevant activities and that will then need to be considered by Council for funding.
Depending on the significance of the funding requirements a separate consultation process may be required.
After considering the Government spending priorities set out in the GPS and Waka Kotahi’s funding constraints, it is possible that over the next 10 years Nelson will not see any additional funding to support the delivery/outcomes of the final business case. It will be unaffordable for Nelson to undertake this work without significant Waka Kotahi funding support. In addition, Council is also mindful that any improvement measures implemented on our arterial roads over the next 10 years are also likely to provide benefit to the state highway. In such an event Council will be advocating that this work should qualify for a financial assistance rate (FAR) higher than the 51% that currently applies.
You can find all of the detail regarding the Nelson Future Access Project here.
What are the alternatives?
An alternative would be for Council to not bring forward the Atawhai Rising Main project resulting in a saving of $4.4 million to debt. However this project was a way to begin work early on a crucial renewal to help moderate the surge in utilities renewals needed after 2030. This would be a burden for future ratepayers and would delay progress on this key lifeline asset.
Another option is to defer Stage 4 of the Saxton Creek upgrade at a saving of $540,000 per annum to rates and debt of $12.3 million. However this would reduce resilience to flooding, put property at risk and forgo the $7.5 million grant funding from central government to help with the project.
A residential development close to the City Centre has been proposed by developers on private land, and a private plan change request is expected.
Council is yet to receive an application and no funding is currently in the draft infrastructure work programme in the Long Term Plan. Decisions on a plan change will not be made through the Long Term Plan.
All infrastructure projects have been planned to consider costs and benefits associated with:
- Climate change adaptation, mitigation (emissions reduction), and risk
- Intensification and population growth
- Government’s freshwater provision requirements
- The Nelson Future Access Project
- Creation of a sustainable transport culture
- Replacement of aged utility assets (which will increase significantly over the next 30+ years)
- Renewals of significant transport assets
- External influences (for example COVID-19).
Council’s Financial Strategy includes an increased debt to revenue ratio cap of 175% (from 150% in the previous Long Term Plan). This limit will enable Council to invest in and deliver sufficient quality infrastructure and work towards our Infrastructure Strategy goals while also being financially responsible.
Central Government — Three Waters Review
The Government is currently reviewing how to improve the regulation and supply arrangements of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services (Three Waters).
It has been proposed that new entities be established to manage these by July 2023. As decisions around the reform will take time and have not yet been made at a national level, Council's budgets for the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 have been prepared assuming business as usual, that Council will continue to provide three water services. Depending on when and how the government introduces the changes it is likely that Council will either incorporate the changes into the relevant future Annual Plan and/or Long Term Plan process or undertake a separate consultation process.You can read more about the proposed reforms at dia.govt.nz
We have increased our spending on wastewater, water supply and stormwater projects to ensure our infrastructure remains fit for purpose and cope with the projected growth. Are you satisfied with the proposed level of investment or would you prefer a reduced spend under one of the options outlined above?