Trust wants grant sped up
By Grant Johnston
Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust wants Waipa District Council to pay the balance of its $1Million grant early to help finish the mammal proof fence around the perimeter of the mountain.
In its submission to the Council’s Draft Annual Plan for 2005/06, the Trust has asked for the balance of the grant ($750,000) to be made available in that financial year rather than spreading it over a number of years.
The total Waipa District Council grant of $1Million is part of approximately $8Million pledged for the project through the Trust’s fundraising to date - of which $5Million has been paid.
Two enclosures have been completed on either side of the mountain covering 100ha and all mammals successfully eradicated, approximately 9.5km of high quality walking tracks have been developed and a start made on the main perimeter fence. It is estimated that a further $3.5-$4Million of funding on hand is required to complete the perimeter fence and it has been programmed for this target to be achieved by August/September 2006 to enable pest eradication over the whole mountain in spring next year.
“The most serious challenge to this project is a delay in developing a visitor attraction that will enable the Trust to generate its own operating revenue,” the Trust submitted. “This is obviously dependent on completing the main perimeter fence and eradicating all mammal pests from the mountain."
The Trust’s submission also calls on Council to lift the restriction placed on the grant, prohibiting it from being spent on the main perimeter fence. It says the success of the two enclosures proves the effectiveness of the fence used and any concerns about the practicality of the project should now not be an issue. The Trust said it believed its activities directly support Council’s environmental objectives and significantly assist it in the compliance with its statutory responsibilities with regard to environmental protection and enhancement.
“The Trust is unaware of any other organisation contributing $14Million capital and approximately $850,000 operating per annum towards Council obligations and thus providing a direct financial benefit and saving to ratepayers.”
Trust chief executive Jim Mylchreest will speak in support of the submission at Council’s policy committee meeting considering Annual Plan submissions.