The West Coast region needs central government leadership to help it thrive in a post-coal world, not another road, the Green Party said today.
Buller’s mayor has proposed building a new road through Kahurangi National Park to boost the region’s economic fortunes as the coal industry declines.
“The Government must take responsibility for developing a just transition strategy away from coal for the West Coast’s economy rather than adopt an 1880s-style plan to bulldoze a new road through a treasured national park,” said Green Party West Coast spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“A road is not an economic strategy.
“While I have a great deal of sympathy for the Buller mayor’s concern for our economic survival, the West Coast needs new thinking about how we can thrive post coal.
“Coal mining is a dying industry. Central government must step up and help the West Coast plan for a just transition away from this polluting industry to new industries that can provide sustainable, high wage jobs.
“By changing the trust deed for Development West Coast, that key organisation can begin to act as a local economic development agency rather than in its current reactive fashion, for example.
“The West Coast also needs to offer a full range of post-school educational opportunities to encourage those with talent and skill to take up training and then move into Coast-based careers in a full range of professional work.
“Protecting and restoring our beautiful natural environment is also going to be a key part of our economic future. 95,000 international tourists visit Abel Tasman National Park each year contributing $45 million annually to spending in the Nelson-Tasman region, and creating 370 new jobs. Tourism is one industry with huge potential in the West Coast, if managed well.
“With help from the Government, the West Coast’s economy can thrive alongside it’s incredible natural environment, but this road proposal is not the way forward,” Mr Hague said.