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Pole nursery taking root

A project to develop a new poplar and willow pole nursery at Daleton on the outskirts of Carterton using treated wastewater is gaining momentum.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s [GWRC] Wairarapa Committee was updated on the work at its meeting in Masterton last week.

A report to the committee said the project started in November 2023 and is scheduled for completion by June 2025.

The main reason for planting poplar and willow poles is to prevent soil erosion. Poplars and willows grow fast and have large root systems that bind soils and stop mass soil movement, protecting pasture.

“All of Carterton’s waste ends up protecting our … soils,” a spokesperson said of the project and its rationale.

The reason for the nursery development includes increased demand on existing nurseries, he said.

“We are struggling to meet our own internal demand so there is a need for more material. Aligned with this, Akura Nursery [in Masterton] is under pressure to irrigate – ie, new rules around the regional plan will mean that the Waipoua River has a higher threshold for taking water out of it. In essence, when we need the water we won’t have the water [at Akura]. So we investigated a new site.”

The spokesperson said CDC needs to manage discharges from the municipal wastewater plant, and poplar and willow poles have an amazing root system, “so it was a nice synergy”.

A preliminary feasibility study identified the site at Daleton in Carterton as a good choice for growing pole material to meet demand.

“This site is at the south end of Carterton,” he said.

“This site was set aside to receive treated wastewater from the Carterton water treatment plant and has many of the attributes that a pole nursery requires, including good soils, access to reliable water over the irrigation season, gentle contours, a sufficient contiguous area of land, is centrally located, and has access to services,” the report said.

A lease has been signed with Carterton District Council [CDC] to use the 28 hectares of land to develop as a pole nursery.

“A Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed between GWRC, CDC, and Ngati Kahukuraāwhitia [hapu],” the report said.

Last November a manager was appointed to lead the $2 million project to a point where it is ready to operate.

“In terms of tasks, this broadly includes any procurement, contracts, and design to undertake the following: ground works, construction of buildings, purchase of equipment and security, shelter belt establishment costs, road and track works, utility connections, establishment of perimeter, internal fencing, shelter belts, setting up irrigation systems including connections with CDC and any associated monitoring network or systems, consent, and other approval costs.”

The project team includes representatives from GWRC, CDC, and Ngati Kahukuraāwhitia.

The $2 million capital spend has budgeted a $1 million spend in the 2023/24 financial year, and $1 million in 2024/25.

“The capital project cost and associated debt servicing will be managed within the existing Akura Nursery budget, which includes a planned general rates allocation of $130,466 for the 2024/25 year,” the report said.

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