New Marlborough District Council grant puts environment on par with the likes of sports and arts

8:28 pm on 27 August 2020

Councillors in Marlborough have put their "money where their mouths are" creating a new kitty for protecting the region's environment.

The Marlborough District Council is looking at banning non-self-contained vehicles from its freedom camping sites.

The Marlborough District Council is looking at banning non-self-contained vehicles from its freedom camping sites. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

The new 'Working for Nature/Mahi mō te Taiao' grant will see the environment treated on par with the likes of sport, arts and culture, heritage, and youth projects, which have been receiving council handouts for years.

The $70,000 funding will be available to landowners, businesses and community groups looking to protect or restore the environment.

A council report said environmental projects had been left to battle for attention during the Marlborough District Council's annual plan process each year, leading to "ad hoc decision-making" and community uncertainty.

Council environmental scientist Alan Johnson unveiled plans to change this at an environment committee meeting on Thursday, saying the new grant could be up and running from as early as October.

The grant would be split across two categories: $25,000 under 'Habitat Marlborough', for projects that restored or improved native habitats or biodiversity; and $45,000 under 'Protecting Marlborough', for projects around pest control.

Habitat Marlborough projects could receive up to $5000, while Protecting Marlborough projects could receive up to $15,000.

Funds could be used to cover professional advice, project co-ordinators, pest management devices, weed control equipment, and the cost of buying new native plants.

In doing so, the council would fulfil its national and regional obligations to improve biodiversity, freshwater quality and pest control, and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Councillor Gerald Hope said it was the first time in his decades at the council that environmental protection had been incentivised, "providing teeth to our policies".

"It puts the money where our mouths are," he said.

Councillor Francis Maher said he supported the grant.

"These are very real issues that our generation - us young people - have got to make sure that we leave a legacy for the even younger people."

Councillor David Oddie said it was a "positive move".

"There's going to be a massive rush for the funds we've got available, but we've got to work through that," Oddie said.

Applications would be judged on how they benefited the environment, their likelihood of success and securing other funding, and how much future maintenance was required.

Successful applicants had to report how money was spent.

Funds for the grant would be pulled from the Tui to Town project, which encouraged people to plant natives, and the Marlborough Landscape Group, in charge of land issues.

More money could be thrown at the grant in the future, depending on demand and the outcomes it achieved.

If adopted at full council next month, it was expected funding applications would open from 1 October.

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