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Published: 2001-03-12 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has taken some bold initiatives to maintain and improve the Region’s environment in its draft Strategic Plan for the next decade, released this week.

A $10 million fund over 10 years to encourage landowners to fence and plant stream banks, changes in the Regional Plan to prevent deterioration in water quality in Lake Taupo, community-driven river management works and a major strike on the Region’s possum population and plant pests are all included in the Plan.

Releasing the draft Plan, Chairman Neil Clarke said the work represented the most affordable balance between the community’s ability to pay and the need to get on with essential work to protect the environment.

The amount and range of work to be done meant real rate increases would be necessary to take account of the community’s and Government’s increased expectations. General revenue would have to increase by $1.2 million, which represents a 9.4 percent increase in year one, 9.7 percent in year two and 2 percent in year three.

This would add about $6 to an urban property’s rate bill and about $50 to a rural property of about 100 hectares.

There are also increases planned in some special rates, such as the Hamilton transport rate and the biosecurity works and services rate paid by rural landowners.

The transport rate, which subsidises public transport in the city, would rise by 10.9 percent, amounting to about $2.57 per city household. The biosecurity rate, paid by landowners with more than two hectares, would rise by 44 percent, or 20.5 cents per hectare. This would help fund activities which directly benefit landowners, such as animal pest control, more community possum control schemes and protection of bush and wetland areas.

A significant boost was planned for incentive schemes as the key to achieving environmental results was changing people’s attitudes and behaviour. A total of $10 million over 10 years was to be set aside to support landowners wanting to protect creeks, streams and rivers on their properties.

This would be used to assist fencing and planting to improve water quality where it was most needed. The money would come from using part of the Council’s Investment Fund which was formerly used to inflation proof it.

The Council would also take a greater role in minimising waste as required by Government, as well as emergency management and maintaining and enhancing biodiversity – the variety of natural life.

Mr Clarke said community expectations were a major driver of Environment Waikato’s work. The recent survey of people’s views about the environment had shown a growing understanding and concern about issues affecting land, air and particularly water.

“People will no longer tolerate poor environmental performance and practices. International markets are refusing to buy products from countries where environmental practices are suspect.”

Mr Clarke said the Council was keen to hear what people thought about the draft Plan and wanted to hear people’s views and suggestions before work programmes were finalised.
A special edition of the Council’s environmental magazine EnviroCare, which is published in mid April, will have a summary of the Council’s plans and the full document is available from Environment Waikato or on its website, www.ew.govt.nz.

The draft Plan will be considered by the Council on March 29 and submissions are open from April 17 to May 15 and can be posted to Freepost 646, Hamilton East, Fax (07) 856 0551, or emailed to strategicplan@ew.govt.nz.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.