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‘Let nature take its course’


Council reduces Henley spend from $600k to $80k

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Masterton District Council has voted to halt “adaptation” measures that were recommended on Henley Lake, including extensive wetland vegetation planting and a boardwalk.

Council cited costs and the improved state of the lake as motivations for avoiding the big spend.

Initially presented to the council was the recommendation that $150,000 be allocated from the 2020/21 annual plan for the “first stage of lakeside adaptation”, with a remaining budget of $200,000 spread over two years [2021-2023] to complete the work.

Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont introduced a motion altering this, while leaving the second and third points.

Under McClymont’s plan, only $50,000 would be put towards the consent for taking water from the Ruamahanga River above minimum flow, with a further $30,000 for full automation of the water intake.

This passed with full support, with the exception of Cr Chris Peterson.

The second and third points of the recommendation, which passed unamended, stated that council “continues to work with the Henley Lake Trust … to develop a management plan for the area with the community”; and that council “continues to pursue external funding assistance and funding partners to reduce the council contribution to this project”.

“The minute we go down the lake adaptation route, it’s not revenue coming back,” said McClymont.

“You’ve got a very confused management strategy going on. I thought we’d buried any wetland planting and boardwalks for the meantime, but it’s come back up.”

Cr Gary Caffell, who supported McClymont, said “one of the things I’ve always wanted with Henley Lake is to see it stay as it is, and this option gives us that opportunity.

“I’d also like to say to people that if you go down and look at the lake now, it’s probably in the best condition I’ve seen it in 30 years.

“If we can just leave it as it is now I think it’d be fine.”

Cr Frazer Mailman agreed. “I’m of the opinion that we should let nature take its course.

“We make sure the culverts that we’ve got there are unblocked, that seems to be working well.”

Cr Sandy Ryan, also in agreement, said her opinion had been reversed after seeing the progress made from the inlet alterations and clearing last year.

“I originally supported the development of the wetlands and the planting,” Ryan said.

“But since the inlet has been redeveloped, and the water’s flown in so well, I’ve changed.

“I’ve seen the quality and I think we maintain the status quo at the moment.”

Cr Tina Nixon said she also supported McClymont’s motion.

“I’m keen to see the trust take on a stronger role in this, and we talked a lot at this council about things being community-led.

“This is a project that can absolutely be community-led around the trust.

“The government has just created huge funds around green initiatives, so I think there’s some real opportunities for external funding.”

Cr Brent Gare agreed, and stated that “the trust must continue to be involved in a fairly large way”.

Tim Nelson also endorsed the motion “strongly”.

As councillor after councillor voiced support, leaving the lake’s adaptation funding on the chopping block, David Hopman, manager assets and operations at MDC, made the point that council still needed some funds for the automation of the lake’s inlet control feature.

“If you take that away from us we can’t improve the management,” Hopman said.

“[Adaptation is] not all planting, some of it is improving the water flow and maximising what we can do.

“At the moment it’s a manual system, and we’d deferred investment in that until we’ve had some clarity on the future of the consent.

“With your resolution we’ve now got some clarity on the future and where we’re going, but I would recommend that we do some adaptation work and automate that system.

“You’d be taking away a bit of the money to do that, but I do recognise what you’re saying with regards to planting, but certainly adaption isn’t just planting.

“There are management systems there that we can now improve – to improve water flow.

“I don’t need the $100,000 – a fully-automated control system would range from $20,000-$30,000.”

After this, McClymont and the other councillors acknowledged the importance of the automated control system, which would regulate the lake level automatically, and they agreed to keep the $50,000 for the consent and add a further $30,000 for the automated control system.

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