$800,000 funding for data to help Northland businesses decision making

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Funding from the Regional Growth Programme of up to $800,000 for 3-D aerial mapping of Northland will provide the region's primary industries with highly accurate, free data to make better informed business decisions.

LiDAR is a remote sensing tool which uses laser pulses to generate large amounts of highly accurate geographical terrain data.

"The new data will give Northland an edge by which better informed decisions, in a wide range of areas across public and commercial businesses, can be made. Uses for the data include infrastructure design and investment, urban planning, flood plan mapping and numerous uses across the primary sector in agriculture, forestry and horticulture," says Ben Dalton, the government's Senior Regional Official for Northland.  

"On the farm the data could be used to create 3D models of natural resources such as tree and fence lines and water flows and water catchments for irrigation planning. Forestry operators can assess and forecast the yield of a forest, while horticulture companies can use the same data to assist with their sustainable land management and productivity," he said.

A Cessna twin engine aeroplane, modified for LiDAR surveying, will be used in Northland. The plane can be flown safely at low altitudes over urban areas.

Northland Regional Council Chairman, Bill Shepherd, said the joint central and local government initiative would allow Northland to undertake the most comprehensive LiDAR survey done in the country.

"The data will have enormous practical value for Northland's economic and environmental health, at a cost that is affordable for our ratepayers. The LiDAR surveying is expected to start in the coming months and be completed in 2018 when the data will become available free to the public."

Land Information New Zealand group manager positioning and resilience Graeme Blick says LiDAR is an important dataset for New Zealand. "The Northland LiDAR project will contribute to our efforts to improve the quality of elevation data across the country – supporting economic growth and New Zealand's resilience to natural disasters."

Government funding for the project comes from the government's Regional Growth Programme, co-led by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) also provided part of the funding. The 4 Northland councils (Northland Regional Council, Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, Whangārei District Council) have collectively contributed $1 million to the project. 

The LiDAR survey is part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which contains key projects aimed at increasing jobs, incomes and investment in regional New Zealand.

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