Sunday, 27 September 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Local environmental projects targeted in funding bid

Environmental protection and restoration projects for the Coromandel Peninsula have been targeted by Waikato Regional Council in its bid to secure funding for “shovel ready” projects.

An announcement is imminent as to how and where the $800m the government has allocated towards stimulating local economies and jobs will be spent.

In April, local councils as well as the private sector were asked to submit details of projects that would be ready to go once Covid-19 restrictions eased. Thames-Coromandel District Council said it has sought funding, but would not say for what.

Waikato Regional Council confirmed it has a number of shovel ready projects on Coromandel Peninsula that have been put forward for funding as part of a wider regional bid.

“The focus for the Coromandel proposals is on the delivery of works and services identified in our most recent harbour and catchment management plans for Whitianga/Mercury Bay and Coromandel/Manaia,” a WRC spokesperson told The Informer. “We have been developing and consulting on these draft plans over the last two years.”

The overall cost of the works is estimated at $7.82 million over three years for which WRC has sought $5.34 million in government funding. “This money is proposed to largely be used to deliver works on the ground and to provide additional support to landowners and communities, generating local employment opportunities in the process,” the spokesperson said.

The projects include fast tracking fencing, planting, river stabilisation and restoration works that would see improvements to water quality and biodiversity, and help landowners reduce the impacts of flooding across the two catchments.

The work will build on river management work carried out with the Manaia community over a number of years while implementing a comprehensive environmental restoration programme in the catchment. “The environmental programme seeks to bring to life the aspirations of Ngati Pukenga, Ngati Whanaunga and Ngati Maru around their awa, and connect with the local school, Wharekura o Manaia,” the spokesperson said.

In the eastern Mercury Bay, the funding will support work with iwi, government agencies and a number of community groups to build on existing restoration initiatives by planting trees, carrying out predator control and pest plant management. “All this work is aimed at restoring and protecting our environment, but will also create local employment,” the spokesperson said. “It delivers on the aspirations landowners and local communities in those catchments shared with us in consultation on the development of the harbour and catchment management plans.”

The overall WRC bid also includes a number of region-wide projects from which the Coromandel would benefit. These relate to biosecurity, biodiversity and water quality.

“We are really hopeful that our bids will be successful, but it’s a nationwide process so we are exercising caution,” the spokesperson said. We hope to hear of the success or otherwise later this month.”

A total of 1,800 proposals have been received by the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group who will make a recommendation to cabinet on which projects to help finance from the dedicated fund.

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