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The government will provide $2.5 million in funding over three years to help three local councils affected by the November earthquake, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.

“This funding will help Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough District Councils shoulder their additional local government responsibilities after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake last year,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Based on Christchurch’s experience, we can expect a ramp-up in council activities, potentially doubling their regulatory services.

“The funding will support the Kaikōura and Hurunui councils with their additional local government responsibilities, including building consents, planning and hazard management.   “Last year, Kaikōura District Council issued 118 building consents and processed 51 resource consent applications.

“As a result of the earthquake, 177 properties are red or yellow stickered and many others will need consent for cosmetic work. The council will also need to process multiple consents for road works and infrastructure repairs.

“The Hurunui District had a higher baseline of activity with 400-500 building consents per annum.

“However, well over 300 properties were red or yellow stickered and it too expects a wave of new applications,” Mr Brownlee says.

The earthquake changed the natural hazard landscape in North Canterbury and Marlborough considerably.

Rivers have changed shape, and rockfall and landslips created significant geotechnical hazards to buildings and other essential infrastructure.

The councils now need to understand the changed landscape and the new risks and will need to consult with communities and engage with residents and land owners.

“These small councils are expending considerable time and effort to engage with their communities, including many in remote areas, as well as working with the government agencies assisting the recovery.

“Over the next few years the councils will need to operate at a higher level, taking on staff and being more active with communities and government.

“Longer term I’m hopeful the councils and their communities will be more resilient, in terms of infrastructure and processes”, Mr Brownlee says.

The Mayors of Kaikōura and Hurunui welcomed the additional support, saying it will help ease the burden on ratepayers.

Notes to editors:

The councils have received other help with their local government responsibilities.

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett provided $870,000 to promote tourism in Kaikōura and the upper South Island, plus ongoing support for targeted businesses.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith also recently announced $2.6 million funding for the Hurunui and Kaikōura councils and Environment Canterbury to manage building waste, especially asbestos and other hazardous waste.

The government continues to pay a share of network infrastructure repair, such as roads and pipes.

Government officials will work with the councils to allocate the funding effectively.

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