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Published: 2007-08-20 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is committed to working closely with other local councils on regional transport, whatever the outcome of the government’s Next Steps in the Land Transport Sector review.

Under the Next Steps proposals, a yet to be announced regional structure will be responsible for prioritising some transport projects seeking government funding.

In practice, this will mean more collective decision making on regionally significant projects, like state highways.

However, road maintenance spending will be excluded from the new prioritisation process. The Ministry of Transport also says local councils will still be able to use their normal planning processes to identify projects they want and to secure funding for their share of them.

Environment Waikato’s transport committee chairman Angus Macdonald agreed local authorities would retain significant control of local road spending under Next Steps.

“But, when they want a bigger slice of the taxpayer funded transport pie, the Next Steps proposals would mean there will have to be a very strong team approach taken to prioritising work within the region.”

Mr Macdonald said nothing specific had yet been decided about what regional body would be responsible for transport coordination within the region under Next Steps.

“We already have a multi-agency Regional Land Transport Committee, involving Waikato councils and other agencies, which signs off on a Regional Land Transport Strategy. We are very interested to see how the changes under Next Steps will differ from the current set-up.

“Regardless of what happens, I am very confident councils and other agencies will continue to work together constructively on regional transport matters for the wider benefit of the region.”