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Businesses Still Await Relocation Costs Decision

Franz Josef Businesses Still Await Relocation Costs Decision

Franz Josef businesses still fear for their futures while continuing to await a Government decision into sharing of relocation costs.

Despite an agreement in principle into sharing of relocation costs for Franz Josef businesses and homes affected by a Civil Defence flood warning from the Waiho River last October, property owners are still awaiting confirmation of the split of costs which could affect their viability.

Mike Warren, spokesperson for Global Sanctuaries, owner of the Black Sheep Lodge in Franz Josef, said confirmation of Cabinet’s decision for a fair split in relocation costs was expected before Christmas, but well into the New Year, no fixed agreement has been advised. “It is critical for us that Government keeps its promise,” said Mr Warren.

“We have to abandon the facilities at Black Sheep Lodge and without help from the Government, rebuilding the lodge won’t be possible. That would mean a loss of 14 jobs and about $2.5 million to the local economy from visitors for the year.”

A meeting in October last year between the District Council, Government and locals, agreed to an interim emergency Waiho River Response Plan and a sharing of relocation costs.

The Government eased on its original plan to force the immediate evacuation of the area after strong opposition from local businesses, giving a six-month reprieve until April 2003.

Mr Warren said agreement over the relocation costs was expected many weeks ago. However, he has had advice that Government is again meeting with the District Council to negotiate the sharing of costs.

“The risk to local businesses is that they may be unable to afford to relocate which would have a serious impact on the future of tourism operations in the region. Everyone in Franz Josef will be the loser.”

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