Infrastructure spend good start for regions

July 01, 2020

The shovel ready projects infrastructure programme will inject almost $1 billion dollars into the EMA’s region in the Upper North Island, and generate important employment opportunities.

Funds allocated for as yet un-named projects will see $970 million for projects from Taupo to the Far North with the Auckland region receiving around $500 million, but EMA CEO Brett O’Riley says he expects some areas will still be disappointed as their projects have missed out.

“Over 1900 projects were submitted by Councils and groups around the country and that list has been whittled down to around 150 so naturally there will be some feeling left out,” says Mr O’Riley. “At this stage there are also no large-scale nation-building type projects and that will also surprise some.

“But we have seen first-hand how relatively small-scale injections of capital into projects in smaller centres such as Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki can significantly raise business and community confidence, boosting jobs across the wider region.”

Mr O’Riley said the projects identified in today’s list had an emphasis more on social infrastructure and rejuvenation rather than large-scale horizontal infrastructure such as major rail, road or building programmes.

“Town centre rejuvenation projects in Taupo and Whangarei are designed to give those areas a lift and make them better spaces for residents and tourist when they return, while the roading projects announced around SH30 and interchanges in Rotorua open up access to Ngati Whakaue’s planned 1,100 home affordable housing project.

“The $22 million allocated to Auckland City Mission’s HomeGround facility is another with social wellbeing at its heart addressing the homeless challenge in Tamaki Makaurau. It also provides significant employment during the construction phase and ongoing operation.”

Just under $700 million of the $2.6 billion allocated today is for social and community-based projects with just over $700 million allocated for active (cycling, walking) and other transport initiatives.

Mr O’Riley says the spend announced today is good news in conjunction with yesterday’s decision to allow council debt caps to rise to 300 per cent, which will free up funding for smaller councils in particular to go ahead with their own or co-funded projects more quickly.

Government also announced a $12 billion infrastructure spend just prior to the COVID-19 crisis and recently announced another 11 larger scale projects to be fast-tracked for consents.

“There is also $22 billion in unallocated funding from the COVID-19 recovery budget and you’d expect that go to some of the large-scale nation-building type projects we still require to catch up on our long-standing infrastructure deficit,” says Mr O’Riley.

The EMA will work closely with MSD and MBIE on initiatives to develop the skill base to deliver these projects.

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