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Council praised for leadership on environmental issues

Environment Waikato won praise today from Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton for its leadership on environmental issues, such as Lake Taupo’s water quality.

Mr Sutton, MP Diane Yates and prospective Labour candidates from throughout the Region visited Environment Waikato to hear an outline of major projects in the Region. Mr Sutton said issues such as managing the declining water quality in Lake Taupo reflected the Council’s quality of leadership.

The issue, along with similar water quality issues throughout the country, had made people aware of the impact of dairying on the environment. Some responses to that issue had not been at all constructive, and the farming community had to be viewed as part of the solution rather than a part of the problem which had to be aggressively regulated.

“Environment Waikato has played a leadership role and some other Regional Councils are now getting into the act. I think we now have the makings of really good progress, but it takes time to get people working together.”

Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke said he was very satisfied with the relationship between central and local government. The Government had honoured its pledge to establish a meaningful partnership, which had brought a new culture and some challenges as local government responded to new demands from central government.

He said Government had also pledged to ensure financial support for those responsibilities it devolved to local government, but this had not happened with such issues as navigation safety requirements. Developing bylaws and other requirements had cost the Council about $650,000 which could not be recovered.

The Minister was also told it was important to make progress on legislation which had a major effect on local government, such as the Resource Management Act review, Local Government bill and long-delayed Emergency Management legislation.

Staff outlined progress on major activities and projects, including biosecurity, biodiversity, Lake Taupo, Project Watershed and the Clean Streams project. Animal Pest Programme Manager Peter Russell said progress with bovine Tb control highlighted the need for keeping programmes going and the importance of 1080 for aerial control programmes.

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