Today’s announcement that government will contribute a $10 million flood relief package to the Thames Coast is “the best retirement package ever” for outgoing Thames-Coromandel Mayor, Chris Lux and Coromandel Environment Waikato Councillor, Evan Penny.
In a joint statement with Environment Waikato Chair Neil Clarke, Mr Lux said the announcement of the multi-million dollar package was “simply wonderful news.”
Mr Clarke, who is also retiring as Chair of the Regional Council at the end of this term, said he was thrilled and grateful that the government had stepped in to help ratepayers address a local issue which had had a devastating impact on the district and the region.
The direct costs of the weather-bomb event in June 2002 were estimated at more than $13 million.
Environment Waikato and Thames-Coromandel District Council had worked closely together on the flood management issue which has been part of the Peninsula Project. The project was launched to the community early in 2003 with warnings that any solution to the problem were likely to be costly.
The Peninsula Project involved a massive communications and consultation exercise involving the Department of Conservation, Transit NZ and a number of government departments and officials, Mr Clarke said. The Councils presented a comprehensive business case to government last year and have worked continuously since to secure financial support.
“This has been a total partnership all the way through between both of our Councils and the local communities who have born the brunt of five major flood events since 1981,” Mr Clarke said.
“The announcement today fully meets all our expectations and shows the significant benefit in working together to secure long-term and sustainable solution to issues across the region.”
Mr Clarke and Mr Lux said government money going into the Thames Coast over the next four years would have an immediate positive impact for ratepayers. However, major long-term environmental benefits were also expected for the Coromandel Peninsula.
“This is really important for our natural environment in terms of pest control and preservation of native plants and animals,” Mr Lux said.
“It’s a win-win for everyone and it’s a great way for Neil, Evan and I to end our terms.”