Environment Waikato has adopted its Strategic Plan for the next decade, approving a major 10 - year strategy to improve water quality in rivers and streams and withdrawing plans for an increase in separate biosecurity rates.
The Council’s draft Strategic Plan attracted 88 submissions, with 41 presenting their comments in person. Submitters strongly supported plans for a Riparian Protection Strategy – establishing an incentive fund to help landowners fence and plant stream margins – and supported plans to protect Lake Taupo’s water quality.
They also supported involving communities in catchment planning through Project Watershed, and the Council’s environmental education programmes.
Waste generation and disposal were major concerns for a number of submitters. The Council said waste was a high community priority and it intends to support territorial authorities with development of a waste minimisation strategy next year.
Requests for promotion of alternative means of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport were also included in the Plan.
Plans to increase the Biosecurity Works and Services rate paid by rural landowners were withdrawn following submissions. The rate will remain at the current level while a new Regional Pest Management Strategy is prepared which will include a detailed cost benefit analysis for each plant and animal pest.
The Council will continue to develop funding policy for Project Watershed in consultation with communities.
Some submitters expressed concern at the proposed increase in the general rate over the next three years, but the Council has decided to proceed with plans for a 9.4 percent increase in the next financial year because of the demand from the community for work to be done.
The pressure was on the Council to implement work programmes that ensured sustainability of the Region’s natural resources.