Venture Southland sees lignite as crucial
Lignite remains on Venture Southland's strategic plan for boosting the region's economy despite a recent report saying new jobs could be generated in Southland without developing the coal industry.
The WWF-New Zealand commissioned Berl economic report, commissioned in direct response to the potential development of the lignite industry, was presented to the Venture Southland joint committee this week.
Titled A View to the South: Potential Low Carbon Growth Opportunities for the Southern Region Economy, the report outlines how forestry, horticulture, manufacturing and engineering and education could assist with the region's future growth.
However, Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said at Monday's meeting, developing the extraction sector was key to stimulating the "soft" southern economy.
Enterprise and Strategic Projects group manager Steve Canny said the Berl report should be used as one of many inputs to developing an economic strategy for the region.
City councillor Ian Pottinger said the report was biased and not workable while Southland District councillor John Douglas said it was short on details.
However, Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno and district councillor Paul Duffy said the report raised alternate possibilities for the region: "The region can't afford to be limited in its thinking."
During the discussion of the Berl report, several members of the Venture Southland Joint Committee called for more collaboration between the regional bodies to stimulate economic growth.
A number of regional policies were not aligned, which may impact on future regional economic development, Mr Canny said.
There was a need for the councils to work together and set up an overarching economic strategy so everyone was on the same page, he said.
There was already collaboration between regional bodies but when new land use options presented themselves, opportunities and challenges needed to be considered and it was important there was consensus between the joint committee, he said.
Mrs Cardno backed the idea of the regional bodies combining their efforts.
"It is important that we all look at the future of the region and the direction we need to go in," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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