A good year to be in Marlborough

For all those who live in Marlborough, 2013 is going to be an exciting year as we look towards another vintage. And although grape yields will be reduced, demand is increasing, which should result in a better outcome not only for the industry but the province as a whole as money begins to flow a little more freely.

This rise in demand for grapes and wine is on the back of a number of big developments including Treasury, a company that has invested another $20 million in the region. Wine companies both nationally and internationally continue to recognise the unique and positive attributes of this province.

Industrial and commercial construction is also at an all-time high, which bodes well for employment prospects within Marlborough. In fact the ASB scorecard described Marlborough's commercial construction as going through a mini boom.

The Rangitäne Heritage Centre, Rebel Sports, Countdown, Pak 'N Save, the Farmers redevelopment, and the new theatre are adding to the vibrancy of our town, and all these developments will ensure Marlborough has the best of services in years to come.

As interest rates remain at a 50-year low, first home buyers will continue to enter the market, taking advantage of what is something of a $10,000 a year saving in interest. This will translate into an upswing in the residential construction scene expected to begin early in the new year, taking advantage of our available skilled labour force before Christchurch reconstruction really gets going. Coupled with these very positive economic signs, the Kaituna sawmill has approval to double its capacity to harvest and export quality timber from the region.

The situation regarding King Salmon's application for farming space has become clearer with the interim report coming out mid-December, and the EPA's final report will become known by the end of February 2013.

The award of 10 petroleum exploration permits earlier this month will also have some spin-off for Marlborough. International oil exploration company OMV has applied to the MDC to use Admiralty Bay as a "float-on, float off" location for its drilling rigs during operations in Taranaki in coming years. Anadarko - which has received two permits in a new frontier - the Pegasus Basin, may also seek to use local facilities. Time will tell.

The awarding of 10 exploration permits represents a significant boost in investment in oil and gas exploration in New Zealand.

Collectively the permits represent a committed work programme expenditure of $82 million which, if initial work is successful, could lead to the expenditure of a further $776 million within five years.

While I'm on the subject of the high seas, Picton continues to succeed as a cruise ship destination - another positive for the region as the new year unfolds.

I hope every Marlburian can take comfort in the fact that we live in one of, if not the, finest location in New Zealand. It is also timely to reflect on just how fortunate we are to be living in peace and safety as the police and other agencies work hard to reduce crime to the lowest levels in more than 20 years across the nation.

Well done, everyone. I sincerely hope you enjoy some well-earned time with family and friends over New Year and I look forward to meeting many of you in 2013.

The Marlborough Express