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No promise or commitment on Airport funding

No promise or commitment on Airport funding

For immediate release: Tuesday 26 August 2008

Environment Bay of Plenty has given no undertaking or commitment to Rotorua District Council (RDC) regarding funding required for the redevelopment of Rotorua Airport to cater for trans-Tasman services.
In responding to recent newspaper coverage, Environment Bay of Plenty Chairman John Cronin said the regional council had not made a financial commitment regarding funding for Rotorua Airport.  It has been reported that RDC is looking for $15 million for the airport redevelopment.
He said Environment Bay of Plenty was currently in the early stages of setting up a Contestable Infrastructure Fund to help with significant infrastructure projects in the region.
“Most importantly, the proposed fund does not yet exist.  We therefore can’t and haven’t accepted applications for funding and it is highly unlikely that funds will emerge from this process within the next two years,” Mr Cronin said.
Mr Cronin’s statement comes as Environment Bay of Plenty staff fielded complaints from residents last week, who voiced concern that RDC was trying to publicly force Environment Bay of Plenty into a financial commitment to the airport.
“Before we set up a fund, we need to establish clear and transparent policies defining eligible infrastructure and the terms and conditions under which funding will be allocated or made available,” Mr Cronin explained.  “We also need to consult those people most affected, including our regional community, about how the fund should work.”
Mr Cronin said that it was important for the regional council to state to residents that, at this time, no decision had been made to support RDC with airport redevelopment funding.
“When the Contestable Infrastructure Fund is established, we will consider applications that meet the criteria and protocols, but no decisions or commitments have been made yet as the fund is not set up,” Mr Cronin said. “It is therefore impossible at present for RDC, or any such agency, to apply for infrastructure funding.
“We thought it was important to make this public statement as we don’t want to get caught in the centre of a funding row, or for ratepayers to build some expectation that Environment Bay of Plenty is definitely going to part-fund the airport.”
Mr Cronin said the Contestable Infrastructure Fund was an important part of the regional council’s long-term capital management and funding plans.
“As with any durable funding or financial plan, the benefits may not be seen immediately, but are evident in the long-term,” Mr Cronin said.  “If the fund is approved, we don’t expect to be able to allocate funds from it until the 2010/11 financial year.”

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