Environment protection not prime focus - CEO

By Laurel Stowell

3 comments
Michael McCartney
Michael McCartney

Horizons Regional Council will apply the principles of the One Plan to any action plan for economic growth, chief executive Michael McCartney says.

With Hawke's Bay Regional Council pushing the Ruataniwha Dam scheme, the Chronicle asked whether Horizons would also take an active role in economic development.

The Regional Growth Study for this region was finished last July, and wholly funded by Government.

Now an action plan is being made, called Accelerate25. It is funded by $230,000 from Horizons and $150,000 from Government.

Mr McCartney said the $230,000 came out of the council's investment reserves and was not a cost to ratepayers.

Horizons staff are putting in a bit of work, with most being done by the paid consultants.
Regional councillors agreed to the $230,000 funding when the action plan began and there was no time to consult ratepayers, he said.

The council resolved to review its commitment at the next opportunity.

That ratepayer consultation is happening now, in response to Horizons' annual plan.
Council chairman Bruce Gordon said ratepayers had given Horizons strong support for its involvement so far.

Mr McCartney said there was a perception regional councils existed to protect the environment, but their real business was sustainable natural resource management.

"Sustainability implies use, and use links to economics."

As local authorities they were charged with looking after the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of region people.

There was no law directing them to be pro-active in economic development. But work such as pest control and river management 50 per cent of their "$50 million business", was necessary to maintain the prosperity of people in this rural region.

The requirement to protect the environment kicked in only when resources were under pressure, Mr McCartney said.

The council's big picture understanding of regional resources was useful for economic development, and a resource in itself.

"Our information is a strong resource. We need to keep that going."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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