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Grant for Auckland soil sampling trial

24 February 2005

Grant for Auckland soil sampling trial

A total of $28,500 has been allocated for a trial to determine the best soil sampling strategy for investigating former horticultural properties in Auckland, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

“The Ministry for the Environment will provide $16,500 from its Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund towards the trial, which is 58 per cent of the total cost,” Marian Hobbs said.

Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council will provide the remaining $12,000.

“Government and the Auckland councils are working together in this first step to help provide clarity and certainty for the owners of Auckland properties formerly used for orchards or market gardens,” Marian Hobbs said.

Auckland Regional Council Chairman Michael Lee said he was pleased to work with the Auckland City Council and the Ministry for the Environment.

"The ARC sees this as a positive opportunity to take the findings of the Horticultural Soils report to the next level to get some resolution of this issue and allay people's concerns," Michael Lee said.

The ARC and the Auckland District Health Board released the Horticultural Soils report in 2001.

A small number of redeveloped former horticultural sites in Auckland will be selected for the trial, which will be used to test and report on various sampling methods. The intention is to select sites that previously contained former orchards and glasshouses.

Auckland Regional Council, working in liaison with the Ministry and Auckland City Council, will then make recommendations for a large-scale investigation – to investigate potential areas of risk in the region and determine the risk, if any, of former horticultural land in Auckland City.

The Ministry for the Environment and the Minister are looking forward to working with Auckland councils to determine funding for future work, through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund, Marian Hobbs said.

Background

The Ministry for the Environment has been working with Auckland Regional Council and territorial local authorities in the Auckland region on the issue of potential soil contamination from former horticultural land for more than two years.

In October 2004, Auckland City Council decided to place Land Information Memorandum (LIM) notices on approximately 5000 properties formerly used for horticulture. In December 2004, the Ministry for the Environment, at the request of Marian Hobbs, sought and released two Crown Law opinions on the responsibilities of councils to place information on LIMs.

The opinions clarified that councils are not required to place a notice on a Land Information Memorandum just because land has been used for past horticultural activity.

Auckland Regional Council formally submitted an application to the Ministry for the Environment on 28 January 2005 for a trial investigation to determine the best sampling method for former horticultural land. Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund The Ministry’s Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund has $1 million available each year to which regional councils can apply for assistance with cleaning up contaminated sites that pose a potential or known risk to human health or the environment.

Earlier this month, Marian Hobbs announced five grants totalling $303,937 in the first of two main funding rounds from the fund for the 2004/2005 financial year. They included grants towards cleaning up the polluted Waiwhetu stream in Lower Hutt, a former gasworks site in Masterton, a disused sheep dip site in Paradise Valley near Rotorua, the former Westport gasworks site, and the former Tapanui Timber Treatment Site in Otago.

The application relating to former Auckland horticultural land was considered separately, but by the same process as the other applications against the same funding criteria.

ENDS

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