Mayors put conservation back on agenda

West Coast leaders have spent hours prioritising potential projects for the $1 billion provincial growth fund - and are putting conservation stewardship land firmly back on the agenda.

The mayors, Development West Coast and Tourism West Coast met at Shantytown on Wednesday to go over their various wish lists.

The mayors will meet with Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in Wellington early next week.

The meeting spent time "robustly" discussing the future of stewardship land.

The previous National government started a process to divest the Department of Conservation of land which had low conservation value.

However, the new Labour-led Government wants stewardship land included in the proposed mining ban.

A statement from the councils and Development West Coast yesterday morning said the meeting had voted to seek a review of stewardship land as per the original government process outlined in 1987, when Doc inherited the land.

The overall feedback from the meeting will now be collated by the Development West Coast economic development unit into a series of packages, with the first tranche to be submitted to the provincial growth fund in August.

"A gathering of this nature has not occurred for many years, and the value of such an event to work together to drive the future of the West Coast forward cannot be underestimated," the councils said in a joint statement.

The Greymouth Star revealed on Wednesday the Government was set to announce a special West Coast economic package from its $1 billion provincial growth fund next month.

- By Laura Mills

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