Fast-tracking resource consent for a new water storage facility in Kaikohe will give a long term boost to the horticulture sector and provide jobs and opportunities, Far North Mayor John Carter says.
The Government announced last week it was fast-tracking 11 infrastructure projects through the Resource Management Act so work could start sooner than planned to create jobs amid soaring unemployment.
Two involve Northland projects — the water reservoir near Kaikohe and papakainga housing nationwide that includes 24 homes in Kaitaia.
This comes just a week after the Government announced $37.5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund for a new water storage dam at Ngawha, 7km away from Kaikohe.
Carter said the latest announcement is great news for Kaikohe, the Far North and all of Northland.
''It means we can refocus land use and take advantage of the very rich, volcanic soils we have in the area. A lack of water over summer has always been a key impediment for landowners wanting to diversify away from dry stock to other production,'' he said.
''With reliable storage, we can focus more on horticulture. This will also open up new opportunities for Māori landowners, who have often found it difficult to develop their land.''
Carter said construction of the reservoir will initially create 70 jobs, but it will have a much greater impact on employment down the track.
''More jobs will be created long term by boosting our horticulture sector, and it will also contribute to industry. We are still developing the Kaikohe Industrial Park proposal and already have key tenants interested. Greater certainty over water supply will make this project far more attractive to investors and tenants.''
He said water storage will provide much-needed resilience for Kaikohe, which had water tanks installed for residents to use after the town's supply almost dried up this summer.
''The recent drought stretched our current water sources to breaking point and the town faced the possibility of taps running dry. Building a reservoir like those currently supplying Kerikeri will give Kaikohe residents much needed certainty about domestic water supplies,'' Carter said.
Also under the fast-tracking process He Korowai Trust, in Kaitaia, will build 24 papakainga homes in Kohuhu St, Kaitaia.
The trust also has scope for future additions on the property. He Korowai Trust already provides papakainga housing through its Whare Ora - a communal village set in 50 acres of land owned by the trust.
Environment Minister David Parker said under the fast-track Bill, job-rich infrastructure and development projects of different sizes and in different locations around New Zealand will be prioritised.