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New civil defence plan will help make region safer

MEDIA RELEASE

New civil defence plan will help make region safer

For immediate release: Monday 16 May 2005

A Bay of Plenty civil defence plan, which will help make the region “an even safer place to be in an emergency”, was officially signed off on Friday.

Six of the region’s mayors and Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin marked the occasion with a signing ceremony at the Western Bay of Plenty District Council in Tauranga. It was also attended by the National Director of Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, John Norton, and national civil defence controller, Mike O’Leary.

Two years in the making, the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence and Emergency Management Plan was developed under the guidance of a new Civil Defence Emergency Management Group led by mayors and the chairman of the regional council.

The group’s chairman Graeme Weld, who is Western Bay of Plenty District, mayor told the meeting the plan was critical to providing a pragmatic and coordinated response to any large scale catastrophe in the region.

“Coordination between local authorities in the Bay of Plenty has been fundamental in developing the plan and will continue to be crucial if the plan is to work. It is imperative that civil defence controllers at district level use it as a tool to plan and, if needed, respond to the needs of those affected by a large scale emergency,” said Mr Weld.

Until recently, New Zealand’s regional councils had regional responsibility for civil defence. Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the job was taken up by a joint committee of mayors supported by local authority chief executives and senior emergency services personnel. Environment Bay of Plenty chief executive Jeff Jones is the regional controller in a regional emergency.

The plan covers all hazards, not just natural hazards, including gas leaks and agricultural outbreaks. It emphasises risk reduction and being prepared for disasters. It is supported by local plans from the six district and city councils and also includes procedures or plans for specific areas, such as public information, welfare, recovery and regional warnings.

Project manager John Thurston said the plan had strong community components. “We must encourage local communities to become more aware of, and committed to, effective civil defence emergency management,” he said.

Now the plan is adopted, it will become operational in the new financial year.

ENDS

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