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Fire Rehab Funding of $555,000 for development

Embargoed till 7 am Tuesday 17 April 2001 Media Statement

Fire Rehab Funding of $555,000 for economic development


The Government has approved a total of $555,000 to rehabilitate land in Marlborough's Wither Hills and Awatere Valley, devastated by fire in late December.

The Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development, Jim Anderton, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Jim Sutton and the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs said the money will be used to re-seed fire-damaged pasture and soil conservation plantings and structures both within the Wither Hills Catchment Control Scheme area and on land in the adjacent Awatere Valley.

The assistance will be paid to Marlborough District Council which will be responsible for managing the rehabilitation work.

The fire destroyed some 6300 hectares of hill country pasture and soil conservation plantings in the Wither Hills Catchment Control Scheme and adjacent land.

"This area has profound economic development issues as a result of the fire," Jim Anderton said. "The threat of erosion could lead to flooding and this poses a serious economic threat to Marlborough's economy, particularly wine and tourism companies.

"Ministers are working together with the Ministries of Economic Development, Agriculture and Forestry, and Environment to create a whole-of-government approach in partnership with local government and industry," said Jim Anderton.

Marian Hobbs said much of the land, close to Blenheim, was highly erodible and the Government had been involved in soil conservation plantings since 1944.

"The protection provided by the Wither Hills Catchment Control Scheme is essential to flood control of the lower Wairau Valley," Marian Hobbs added.

Jim Sutton said soil conservation works had enabled businesses to invest with confidence in non-pastoral based industries over the last 20 years.

"These are in areas that previously experienced serious flooding," he said.

The Government funding will cover 60 per cent of the actual costs up to $390,000 within the Wither Hills Scheme area and $165,000 on pastoral land affected by the fire in the Awatere Valley and adjacent land.

The Government will require that stocking not take place on the land re-seeded under this assistance for nine to 12 months after sowing.

ENDS

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