The Just Transition process continues for Southland after a positive meeting with Labour’s Energy and Resources Minister, Dr Megan Woods yesterday.
With or without Tiwai, the group’s agenda is to secure the future of the region, to keep it buoyant, introduce more skilled jobs, lower carbon, diversify land and water use, and look to productive clean energy usage.
Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods made the trip down to Bluff to engage with the Enduring Oversight Group (EOG) at Te Rau Aroha Marae yesterday and said their plan is taking great steps to protect and grow Southland’s future.
“It’s hugely satisfying to see such a collaborative and refined plan coming from the people of Southland for what their future looks like,” she said.
The collaboration between the EOG and Minister Megan Woods was positive, with both parties commenting on the importance of working together.
“This is a journey we are going on together and the collaborative effort put in has ensured this is a viable plan for Southland,” Minister Woods said.
EOG Co-Chair Aimee Kaio echoed Minister Woods’ comment.
“We’ve all been working extremely hard and the support from Minister Woods and the government is appreciated,” she said.
The overarching goals are to strengthen businesses to transition to new industries, help to understand regional advantages in primary industries, skills and training workstreams, as well as to build the community’s resilience and long-term strategic focus.
Minister Woods commented over half a million dollars has recently been allocated to support ongoing projects as part of the Just Transition plan.
“I support and thank the EOG for their work in taking the lead to plan out what the future could look like for Southland. I also want to thank the people of Southland for their ongoing participation in the Just Transition process,” she said.
EOG Co-Chair Aimee Kaio was confident that the work of the Southland Just Transition workstreams, places Southland in a less vulnerable position and provides a more certain future.
“We do not want Tiwai to go, but we also do not want our region to be reliant on one large industry for employment and downstream business. We need an end, and solution,” Kaio said.
The Just Transition plan includes a number of initiatives to support the region’s transitional period.
These include diversification of land use, helping establish new innovative companies and growing more renewable energy, such as wind farms in the region.
EOG Chair Neil McAra said the key to this was the economic potential of a new aquaculture industry and a clean energy economy being established in the region.
“These could establish on their own over a long time. However, to create certainty we need to accelerate the development of these as soon as possible, and government support is needed in achieving this,” McAra said.
Aquaculture on its own has the potential to develop upwards of 2,000 new jobs and contracts, while clean energy has the ability to help the country decarbonise and support further industry.
Minister Woods finished with commending the work that has so far been done.