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Millions confirmed for Wairarapa in regional 10-year plan

Millions confirmed for Wairarapa in regional 10-year plan

Millions of dollars for new projects in Wairarapa has been approved in Greater Wellington’s new Long Term Council Community Plan (10 year plan) says GW Chair Fran Wilde. Councillors approved the plan at a meeting on 30 June.

$3.6 million for possum control
“The council has earmarked $3.6 million of new money to spend on possum and predator control over the next 10 years, to pick up where the Animal Health Board (AHB) will be finishing as it gets Bovine Tb under control in Wairarapa.

“While the AHB possum control has targeted Bovine Tb, there have been substantial economic spin-offs for farming, forestry and horticulture with possums at low numbers in Wairarapa, and our native bush and birds have made a big comeback.

“Farmers and landowners have asked Greater Wellington to put in a replacement possum control programme to maintain the economic and biodiversity gains already made. This is part of our commitment to maintain a profitable agriculture sector and healthy native biodiversity in the region.”

Cr Wilde says the new possum control programme will start in part of northern Wairarapa that is scheduled to be declared free of Bovine Tb. AHB-funded possum control will soon finish in these areas.

Spending will start modestly at $30,000 in 2010/11 and gradually move up to $765,000 a year in 2017/18 and 2018/19 as the programme moves south.

“Farmers have been telling us for several years that they are delighted with the increased productivity and native birdlife that low possum numbers bring. They made it very clear through submissions that they didn’t want to go back to the bad old days when possums were chewing on everything, including their bottom line.”

GW will be spending a further $330,000 in rural Otaki where AHB possum control is due to finish in two years.

The government and industry-funded Animal Health Board began possum control in Wairarapa in the early 1990s to curb Bovine Tb.

GW funds an extra $2.1 million for erosion control
Greater Wellington will be spending an extra $2.1 million in the next 10 years focusing on Wairarapa’s erosion prone eastern hill country in the Wellington Regional Erosion Control Initiative (WRECI), says Wairarapa Councillor Ian Buchanan

“This is a partnership initiative proposed by the Government, where the Crown, Greater Wellington and landowners each contribute a third share for new soil conservation initiatives. The Government plans to put in another $2.1 million over ten years, bringing the increase to $4.2 million. Landowners contribute a further $2.1million to the initiative.

“The prospect of securing central government money for soil conservation was too good an opportunity to miss. It makes sense for the sustainability of the region’s economy and environment to invest in this.”

In the next 10 years GW estimates 2000 hectares will be planted with 145,000 poplar and willow poles, a practice which stabilises land while grazing continues. Another 1000 hectares are planned to be fenced and retired from grazing under the initiative.

The initiative is expected to half the amount of time it will take to treat the remaining erosion prone hill country in Wairarapa – from 60 years to 30 years.

Other initiatives
Greater Wellington is also planning a major upgrade of the flood protection works for the Waiohine Floodplain and Greytown, and ongoing work in the lower Ruamahanga River.

Councillors have ear-marked $100,000 a year to go towards the development of a wetland park for Lake Wairarapa, Lake Onoke and their surrounding wetlands.

Plans will be drawn and priced for a new building for the Masterton office that will be an alternative Civil Defence Emergency Operating Centre for Wellington in the case of a major natural disaster. Councillors will then decide in 2010 whether to proceed.

The proposed 10-year plan outlining council projects and spending was released for consultation on March 23, and closed for public submissions on 24 April. A summary of the plan was sent to every household in the Wellington region. There were 464 submissions and 90 oral submissions.

Comment from the Wairarapa Hill Country Advisory Committee
Wairarapa Hill Country Advisory Committee chairman Peter Gawith says farmers will be very happy with the extra spending on possum control and soil conservation.

“This is the first opportunity in 20 years to take advantage of Government funding for soil conservation. Farmers were pretty excited to hear about this and we had a strong delegation go down to Wellington to present our submission in support of the initiative.

“It is very encouraging to hear Greater Wellington will continue possum control as the Animal Health Board finishes their Bovine TB programme in parts of Wairarapa. Farmers, foresters, fruit growers, anyone who gardens in a rural area or enjoys our native birds and forests will benefit from this.”

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