Regional development funding announced

Wednesday 28 Feb 2018

 
Northland and the East Coast are the big winners from the first tranche of regional development spending announced by the Government on Friday.

The Hawke's Bay will see the Napier-Wairoa rail line return for logging trains while Northland will receive $17.35m for a variety of projects, including a $9m upgrade to a State Highway 10.

Regional Economic Development minister Shane Jones has secured $61.7m from Cabinet for the first round fo spending.

On Friday he announced where over $40m of that was going - with close to half heading to Northland and almost $10m to the Hawke's Bay.

The West Coast and Whanganui are also receiving millions in funding for bike trails and a port upgrade.

The further $20m will be rolled out over coming weeks.

"Our first regional packages support the regions most neglected by the last government: in Northland, Tair?whiti-East Coast, Hawke's Bay and Manawat?- Whanganui and the West Coast of the South Island," Jones said.

"We are providing an immediate boost to these areas by investing $61.7 million into forestry initiatives, tourism ventures, rail and roading projects, and supporting these regions develop their proposals further to help them get off the ground."

"If all the projects we're funding realise their full potential, this will equate to more than $344 million of public and private investment for our regional economies."

Jones expects the spending to create at least 700 direct jobs and 80 indirect jobs. That's close to $80,000 a job.

NZ First won the annual $1b Provincial Growth Fund fund to spend on regional development during coalition talks.

REGIONAL RAIL A FOCUS

Over $8m of spending is heading to regional rail regeneration.

Around $5m will be spent reviving the Napier-Wairoa line for forestry trains.

"The Government is making safety a higher priority when it invests in transport and taking logging trucks off challenging roads contributes to that," Jones said.

"KiwiRail's financial result released this week showed an 8 per cent revenue increase in its overall forestry business in the six months to December – a result being driven by strong growth in the volume of logs."

Another $3m will be spent on upgrading the Whanganui line. Kiwirail will also receive $750,000 to look at the feasibility of rail projects in Kawerau, Southland, and New Plymouth.

KiwiRail welcomed the move.

"This investment is a vote of confidence in our customers and our staff," chief executive Peter Reidy said.

"Moving logs by rail takes pressure off the roads, and reduces greenhouse gases – each tonne of freight carried by rail instead of heavy trucks means 66 per cent fewer carbon emissions."

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Source: Stuff News


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