The Buller Recovery Steering Group has established a cross-agency project to investigate longer-term flood recovery priorities and measures to increase the resilience of Westport and its surrounds from future flood events

The Steering Group has been tasked with identifying and recommending an integrated package of long-term resilience measures that will be put forward for possible funding through a co-investment approach with Government.

The Steering Group will report back to elected Council members of both the West Coast Regional Council, and Buller District Council with the recommended package of measures by the end of June 2022. Subject to the Councils’ and iwi agreement on the package, a proposal to seek co-investment from central government will then be made to the Minister of Local Government.

Former Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne is the Steering Group’s independent chair.

“Developing the integrated package of resilience measures is a complex challenge that requires alignment across the respective roles and policy options held across central government, the West Coast Regional Council, the BDC, iwi, the private sector (particularly insurers, lenders, and developers), and individual property owners,” says Mr Kempthorne.

“It is important to understand that there is no quick fix. The integrated package will provide the framework, and a solid business case that is required from Government to support infrastructure projects of this nature.

“The West Coast Regional Council has recently committed to a large-scale flood protection scheme for Westport in its Long Term Plan, and is setting up a rating district to fund this work. The Westport Rating District Joint Committee will run in parallel to the Steering Group and will be responsible for taking decisions on the physical infrastructure work package component back to the West Coast Regional Council to approve.

“The Buller Recovery Steering Group will work closely with the Joint Committee and consider how this proposal fits within the integrated package being developed, including the full range of solutions that are needed to make Buller more resilient to future floods, both now and in the future.

“This is an opportunity to bring together both Councils and Government with their combined financial resources to explore solutions which will be challenging for the West Coast to afford on its own. We welcome the appointment of Hugh McMillan as the Joint Committee Chair, and look forward to working with him and his team over the coming months.

“In the meantime, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure that people remain safe and secure, as we develop these long-term solutions. This includes the efforts of our skilled and dedicated Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), the fantastic staff & Community Navigators at the Community Hub, and the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) who are all on hand to assist residents. The Government has also recently announced $17.08m funding for the Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) to build a village in Alma Road.

“I understand that people are anxious for immediate solutions. We want to ensure that all options are considered so the right long-term solutions are found and that these solutions are supported by Government and are affordable for the people of the Buller District.”

Source: Media statement: Richard Kempthorne – Chair, Buller Recovery Steering Group