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Changes for Taupo under Project Watershed

Environment Waikato has recommended changes to proposals under Project Watershed for the Taupo area following submissions made to the draft policy earlier this month. 

In the Tongariro River area the Committee proposed a shift of some of the work to be funded into the general river management category, which would fund the work over a wider area. In some cases this was likely to reduce the direct rate for some properties by about a third.

It is also proposed that the rate on those who contribute to the need for the work to be done will be made on a land value basis, rather than capital value. This would recognise the lesser impact of higher valued urban properties on the need for the work.

The same changes are proposed for the Tauranga-Taupo River area. As well, the Committee has proposed that the benefit classification covering the Waitetoko and Te Rangiita areas be reviewed.

This work will not be able to be done as part of the current Special Order process so the Special Order will exclude the Tauranga-Taupo. It is likely a Special Order for this rate will be made later in the year after further community consultation.

Committee chairman Cr Andra Neeley said there was agreement that the work was necessary and must be done. A number of groups had spoken strongly and convinced the Committee that amendments to the original proposals were needed.

Other changes in response to submissions include changes to how soil conservation is funded. Landowners who receive direct benefit from soil conservation work will contribute slightly more than originally proposed. Landowners wanting work on their land in areas of catchment priority will be asked to pay 65 percent of the cost instead of the 48-56 percent originally mooted.

In Taupo, however, the landowner contribution is proposed to be reduced to 50 percent to recognise the national importance of Lake Taupo and the wider community benefit from erosion control works.

Environment Waikato will continue working to ensure the Crown continues to contribute to the cost of Waikato River flood works. An iwi advisory board is to be formed to deal with the implementation of Project Watershed, following submissions from many iwi.

If accepted, amendments to the original proposal will lower total costs for Project Watershed from $5.8 million to $5.5 million per year, compared to current spending of $4.3 million.

The Council implemented a Special Order process earlier this week to adopt a differential rating system. Recommendations from the Hearings Committee will be made to the full Council in late June when the funding policy will be formally adopted.

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