Esk Valley Silt. Photo: Florence Charvin

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is grateful for additional government funding to the Silt Recovery Taskforce. However, while it’s good news for the region, the funds are about $20 million short.

HBRC chair Hinewai Ormsby told BayBuzz the cost of clearing the remaining silt and debris logged with the Taskforce was estimated at $60 million.

“The cost of clearing the remaining silt and debris logged with the Taskforce is estimated at $60 million, so $40 million is a significant chunk of this,” Ormsby said.

“Local budgets for silt and debris removal were nearing exhaustion so the announcement by government of an additional $40 million is great news for the region and a huge relief.”

She said with the additional funding, the Taskforce could regain momentum and work to restore more of the region’s productive land in the process.

“This will provide certainty for our local growers and producers and support the much-needed economic recovery of the region’s primary sector.

“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from central Government. Further conversations will be had with Government if further funding is required.”

At the end of last year just over half of the silt and debris work had been completed, meaning there was still a lot to do.

Ormsby said with the new funding 600 thousand more cubic meters of sediment and debris could be removed and disposed, unlocking a further 650 ha of land that will be returned to viable productive uses.

“$3 million has been ringfenced for dealing with further woody debris in Wairoa. Some of the funding will also be used for the disposal of accumulated waste and the restoration of all processing sites.”

Silt Recovery Taskforce Lead Darren de Klerk said programming was already in place for how and where this funding will be used.

“While we will do our best to clear as much of the remaining work as we can, the team will be focusing on high priority sites first,” he said.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the new funding provided much needed support and certainty for the region’s primary sector. “While we are aware not all silt impacted land is horticultural, a significant proportion of it is highly productive and restoring it will see an increase in income injected back into Hawke’s Bay and a good boost in local employment.”

She added, “In terms of the bigger picture, the more efficiently the Taskforce is able to finish the silt and debris mahi, the sooner resources and workforce personnel can be refocused to other projects such as those to repair roading and other infrastructure damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle.”

Ormsby said none of the $40m would be used for roading and infrastructure.

“This funding has been allocated specifically for silt and debris work,” she said.

“As part of the North Island Weather Events Hawke’s Bay Crown Funding Agreement initial funding for roading and infrastructure repair was allocated. Further work is being done to determine the additional funding requirements beyond this.”

She added the region had years of recovery work still ahead. 

“It’s a case of ensuring we remain aligned as a region in terms of our recovery priorities and continue to match these with the Government’s programmes and future funding pathways.”

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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