Horizons Regional Council joins its counterparts in submitting environmental enhancement projects to central government

Horizons Regional Council chair Rachel Keedwell says Council has welcomed the opportunity to submit shovel ready projects in the environmental enhancement space for consideration by central government to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

“Regional Councils undertake a wide range of environmental enhancement projects as part of their core business and have a proven track record of working with communities to deliver such projects,” says Cr Keedwell.

“Some examples of our local success include works completed and ongoing through the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord, Horizons’ Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI), and the region’s 1.5 million hectare possum control programme.

“Horizons has worked alongside New Zealand’s other 15 regional and unitary councils to submit a comprehensive package of proposals to extend the existing environmental enhancement work councils already have underway in partnership with iwi, landowners and other stakeholders.

“The major focus is job creation and it is recognised that any new projects must have a long term future so that benefits of any central government investment continues into the future. Collectively, our focus is on enhancing biodiversity and water quality, responding to a changing climate, promoting sustainable land management practices, and creating employment opportunities that enhance social and economic wellbeing.

“The regional council sector’s proposal for $1.5 billion equates to 276 projects and an estimated 5,522 new jobs. Horizons’ proposal totals over $74 million, and is predominately extensions of existing work programmes.

“Horizons’ environmental enhancement proposals include an expansion to existing stream fencing and planting projects, and the SLUI programme - both of which were oversubscribed prior to the COVID-19 event.

“Further water quality improvement project proposals relate to on-farm work, including wetland development and restoration, and reducing the impact of stock access to waterways, as well as effluent management and improvement to fish passages within river systems to enhance native fish populations.

“Biodiversity and biosecurity enhancement projects include extending priority habitat protection programmes such as bush remnants and wetlands, and upgraded pest plant and animal control projects for areas such as the Ruahine Ranges, Tararua Ranges and Tōtara Reserve Regional Park.

“In Ruapehu, an expansion of the successful Kia Whārite project, that protects kiwi and whio (blue duck) populations, and the Pōkākā Eco sanctuary are included in Horizons’ proposal. The Eco sanctuary in the Erua area is an iwi lead project that includes a predator proof fence, visitor centre and an 1800 ha buffer area for pest control.

“An urban pest control project for Ashhurst, Woodville and Palmerston North, will add to the biodiversity benefits of predator control already underway for Te Āpiti-Manawatū Gorge.

“Coastal and estuary enhancement projects also make up Horizons’ submission. This includes funding for the Manawatū Estuary, which is an internationally recognised biodiversity hot spot, the Rangitīkei Estuary, and coastal dunes restoration projects.

“Further support has been sought to fund iwi management plans and also for an environmental enhancement team to undertake on the ground works to improve biodiversity and freshwater outcomes across the Horizons Region.

“Overall, Horizons and the wider regional council sector, have pulled together comprehensive packages for central government to consider. The projects put forward build on our strong experience in delivering environmentally focused projects. 

“Most of these projects are planned or underway. A significant cash injection would enable fast tracking and provide major benefits to our region’s social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing.

“While the time restraint to get our submission into central government didn’t afford conversations with all of our partners, we are confident the projects we have put forward can be delivered on should our proposal be successful.”