Do the election results offer hope for strengthening the fight against the Transport Agency’s plans for a flyover across Kent and Cambridge Terraces and an eight-lane expressway through Hataitai?
The new strength of the Green Party – with 13 MPs instead of nine – should be a positive factor.
Co-leader Russell Norman, who lives in Hataitai, has been specific about his opposition to the roading plans. In April he told a public meeting in Hataitai that he began to get interested when he realised how the quality of life in the suburb would be damaged. He had learnt that the planners were considering as many as six or eight lanes through Hataitai, when it was already difficult to cross the two lanes of Ruahine Street to get to Hataitai Park.
Grant Robertson, back with a strong majority in Wellington Central, is also a committed opponent of the roading plans. When he spoke at the Hands Around the Basin demonstration in September, he said he opposed the flyover because of the damage it would cause to the neighbourhood of the Basin, and he supported Option X because it would create new open spaces for pedestrians and cyclists which would be better for Wellington’s environment.
Yesterday he told the DomPost he wants to introduce legislation to protect the town belt – which seems to be a pretty clear indication of his opposition to the Transport Agency’s plans to widen State Highway 1 through Hataitai, and the environmental damage that would be caused.
His Labour colleague Annette King is also an opponent of the plans. In July she made a strong statement calling for a serious re-think about widening the main road through Hataitai. She’s likely to support the bid to protect the town belt.
Chris Finlayson, defeated last night by Annette King but back as a National list MP, is known to support tunnelling State Highway 1 under the Memorial Park, but he hasn’t made any public statements about this. It’s not likely that he’ll join the cause.
On the other hand, Peter Dunne is an enthusiastic supporter of more roads. Re-elected for a tenth term, he told Newswire last night that one of his “most important and biggest goals” is to ensure Transmission Gully is completed.
Up the coast, National MP Nathan Guy is another enthusiast for bigger and wider roads. His re-election means he will continue to support plans for an expressway through his electorate. As the Kapiti Observer comments, this is a blow to anti-expressway campaigners.
Their campaign against the expressway is, however, bound to continue. And the Wellington campaign has the potential to intensify, with a greater number of MPs who’ll be committed to protecting the environment of the capital city.