Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Extra $10m pledged for ongoing silt recovery

The caretaker Government, in consultation with the incoming Government, has agreed to provide an additional $10 million of funding for Hawke’s Bay’s Silt Recovery Taskforce, which will allow sediment and debris collection and management to continue into December.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby says the additional funding allows the much-needed work to continue.

“While the $10 million is a welcome injection, the councils will continue to advocate for the funding needed to get the mahi complete,” says Chair Ormsby.

“This will allow the Taskforce and the councils to plan ahead for where the material goes, the future land level of areas where silt is removed and to tie in with other programmes of work like the transport rebuild in Esk, and the buy-outs of Category 3 properties.”

Hastings District Council Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst says the region’s leaders are committed to working with the new Government on sediment and debris removal.

“We’re very aware how hard the funding uncertainty is for our cyclone-impacted communities. and this additional funding will see more silt collected. We know we’ve got a long way to go. We look forward to working with the new Government on how we can continue to support the region’s recovery,” says Mayor Hazlehurst.

“The funding also enables the Taskforce to continue to support businesses receiving co-funding from the commercial fund for sediment and debris recovery, by removing the sediment and debris they have tidied up on their property thanks to the fund.

“We are concerned for businesses receiving co-funding from the commercial fund for sediment and debris recovery that the Taskforce won’t be able to collect what they’ve cleaned up.”

Silt Recovery Taskforce Lead, Darren de Klerk says the Taskforce would focus on high priority jobs for November and December.

“Our team will be focused on high priority jobs and re-opening silt deposit sites to get the work running again. We need to prioritise which jobs we return to or are next in line, as the unfortunate reality is that we simply can’t get to everyone,” says Mr de Klerk.

“We estimate this latest money will allow us to complete a further 30 jobs and move an additional 200,000 cubic metres of sediment and debris during November and into December. We currently have 397 jobs across 186 silt jobs, 188 general debris and 23 wood debris jobs waiting to be completed totalling an estimated 1.2-1.5 million cubic metres of sediment and debris waiting to be collected.”

After stopping work at the end of October, contractors will be back working from later in the week and the deposit sites will also reopen to receive trucks, the Taskforce boss confirmed.

“To manage budget, the Taskforce will allocate a shortlist of around 15 contractors a budget to restart jobs previously assigned to them and work closely with them to get as much as possible done.”

“Our assessors will continue to work closely with landowners and contractors to prioritise efforts and visit sites. 132 of the 395 remaining jobs still require assessment and prioritisation, 15 silt jobs, 103 general debris and 14 wood debris jobs,” he said.

Wairoa District Council Mayor, Craig Little says some funding from the $10 million will be allocated to Wairoa to progress stage two of the work on removing woody debris works.

“Funding for the next stage of cleaning up the woody debris stacked on rivers and beaches is critical as we lead into summer.”

“We need to look at the end use for the debris, the risks of which were made clear by a recent fire in two stacks of wood on Whakamahi beach,” he said.

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