Horizons submits over $150 million of environmental enhancement shovel ready projects to central government

Further work on Horizons Regional Council’s environmental enhancement shovel ready projects has been done, taking an initial proposal of $74 million worth of projects to over $150 million for central government consideration.

Horizons Regional Council natural resources and partnerships group manager Dr Jon Roygard says conversations with government officials have allowed for a rework of deliverables, local co-funding, the number of jobs that would be created, and extending the projects to a five year timeframe.

“Twenty projects totalling $74 million have now been refined to 13 projects with a total value of just over $150 million. We are seeking a $100 million contribution from central government,” says Dr Roygard.

“While many of the projects are already planned or underway, central government funding will accelerate the work. This, in turn, will stimulate our economy, create jobs, and improve our region’s water quality and biodiversity at a faster rate.

“Of the 13 projects submitted, ten are Horizons’ led. These range from enhancing native fish populations through fish passage remediation, riparian planting and stream fencing, pest plant and animal control, to biodiversity enhancement, and accelerating Council’s Sustainable Land Use Initiative.

“We have also worked with Uenuku Charitable Trust to put forward two projects related to the iwi-led 200ha predator-fenced Pōkākā Ecosanctuary in the Ruapehu District, and advanced a project to resource iwi to prepare iwi environmental management plans.”

“A further biodiversity enhancement project is for the active management of a representative set of sites across the over 60 ecosystem types in the region within five years. This project includes additional management at sites already in the programme, as well as new sites. It also includes the assessment of over 900 sites and the development of site management plans.”

Horizons chair Rachel Keedwell says today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, and the global theme ‘our solutions are in nature’ couldn’t be more pertinent at this time.

“We are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing,” says Cr Keedwell.

“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.

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

“A major focus of our submission 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.

“The $150 million worth of projects includes a provision for over 750 jobs, and to accelerate Councils work with the region’s iwi/hapū, landowners and communities to enhance the environment.”