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Regional funding proposed for fight against pest tree

Media Release - 05 April 2016

Otago people will get to have their say on whether the Otago Regional Council (ORC) should contribute to the funding of wilding conifer management in the region.

Two funding options have been included in the council’s draft Annual Plan consultation document which will be in mailboxes throughout Otago soon.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said the main problem areas for wilding conifer spread are Central Otago and Queenstown.

The proposed funding is in response to longstanding community requests – particularly from groups in Central Otago and the Wakatipu - for ORC assistance, and the proposal was reinforced by feedback the council received in an online poll, which underlined the strong public support for the move.

A key finding was that 93 percent of the 589 respondents were concerned about the spread of wilding conifers and its impacts, and want ORC to support the work of community groups controlling the spread.

Of those asked to identify which particular impacts of the spread of wilding conifers they were most concerned about, the top three issues were loss of scenic landscapes, damage to environmentally sensitive areas, and reduced water availability in rivers.

Mr Woodhead said a targeted uniform rate that is 50% regionally-funded and 50% funded by the most affected districts was the council’s preferred option.

The charge per property in this option (Option 1) would be:

Central Otago $2.81
Queenstown Lakes $1.82
Rest of the region $0.54

The other option (Option 2) would be a targeted uniform rate of $1.07 per property across the whole region.

“Our assumption is that wilding conifer control groups in Central Otago and Queenstown would receive $50,000 each, but should this change, the rates payable would be adjusted accordingly.”

Mr Woodhead said the fact that the council had a preferred option did not preclude Option 2 being adopted if there was significant public support for it.

“This is why we consult on major funding issues like this, so we have a clear indication on people’s preferences and willingness to pay,” he said.

A review of Otago’s pest management plan will occur in 2017/18, where further control options will be considered.

Local Government New Zealand has lent its support to a national strategy to deal with the escalating effects of wilding conifers on the environment and the economy.

For more information contact

Stephen Woodhead
Chairman
ORC
Ph 027 280 1635

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