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NRC adopts new 10-year plan

24 Jun 2021, 9:57 AM

A raft of new initiatives to create greater community resilience, improve freshwater health, and realise our region’s collective potential have been adopted in Northland Regional Council’s Long Term Plan 2021-2031.

Chair Penny Smart says the council will spend over $243M over the next three years, with significant boosts to biosecurity, managing water catchments, and building resilience to climate change.

“We’ve developed this plan in response to the views of our communities, legislative changes from central government, and work we know needs to be done,” says Chair Smart.

“It’s been a delicate balancing act and we are confident that we’ve settled on the best combination of work programmes to serve Northland’s diverse needs.”

Under the new plan, which was finalised by council on Tuesday 22 June 2021, the council will spend $5.63 million over the next three years on science, planning and compliance to address water health. A further $6.18M ($907,000 more than proposed) will be spent over the same period on managing our water catchments, including significant new funding for the Kaipara Moana Remediation programme, and support for farm planning, and an extra boost for council’s environmental fund.

Another $3.28M will be spent over three years on land-based biosecurity ($771,000 more than proposed), $627,000 on biodiversity and $2.16M on climate change initiatives.

With some of the new spend able to be covered by increases in council’s investment revenue, increases to rates were able to be kept close to what was proposed, and even less in outer years. Overall, the council’s rates bills will increase 21% percent in year one of the Long Term Plan, an average increase of about $83 per ratepayer. This will be followed by increases of 14% in year two and 9% in year three.

Councillors collectively believe the increase is necessary for Northland to stay strong and continue growing in changing times, says Chair Smart.

“We weighed up the impact of this cost on ratepayers carefully, but ultimately, we know that we need to do this work now in order to create a healthy environment, strong economy and resilient communities.”

During an official consultation period, staff and councillors ran seven ‘Have Your Say’ events around the region. The council received 171 submissions on its LTP consultation document.

“In a time when many other plans were also out for consultation, we are grateful that people found time to kōrero with us, in person at our region-wide ‘Have Your Say’ events and in various ways online,” says Chair Smart.

“The submissions we received were generally supportive of the proposed work and reinforced the feedback from our early consultation in August 2020.”

One area of consultation that divided opinion across communities was the proposal to grant $14M for the fit-out of the proposed Oruku Landing Conference and Events Centre (Oruku Landing).

After careful consideration, council decided to instead approve a $6M grant in 2023/24, subject to a suite of conditions being met. These include ongoing financial commitment from Whangarei District Council and Crown infrastructure partners, and detailed design and costings being provided.

More information on the regional council’s Long Term Plan 2021-2031 can be found on its website at www.nrc.govt.nz/futureplan