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Council seeks community views through new online forum

Environment Waikato has launched a new online forum as it continues to gather community views on what’s important for the Waikato region for its 10-year plan.

The forum is focused on finding out what residents’ priorities are for our environment, economy, and cultural and social wellbeing.

It follows a survey of approximately 600 Waikato residents in October, which showed people’s top five priorities for the region were protecting waterways, road safety, emergency management, safeguarding the productivity of land and soil, and controlling plant and animal pests.

Chief Executive Bob Laing was not surprised protecting the region’s waterways had been identified as the number one priority for the Waikato.

“Any place that has plentiful fresh water is going to have an economic advantage and enhanced community wellbeing.”

Respondents echoed this, saying water was essential for life, and the quality of Waikato waterways had a direct impact on our economy and recreation.

Residents’ second priority was road safety. Environment Waikato is responsible for the coordination of the regional road safety effort, working together with local agencies towards the common goal of ensuring the safety of people on Waikato roads.

Third on the list was Environment Waikato’s role in emergency management protection.  The impacts of more severe weather events and sea level rise will affect our region’s resources, and the survey showed the incidence of flooding and other natural hazards were major concerns for the future.

The productive capacity of land and soil continues to be another high priority for the Waikato, with residents recognising the crucial role of agriculture in the region’s economy and standard of living.

“Agriculture is the powerhouse of the Waikato environment so we really depend on the health of our water and soil resources to safeguard our future,” Mr Laing said.

Controlling plant and animal pests was also rated as an important concern for residents, who highlighted the need to protect native biodiversity and reduce damage caused by plant and animal pests.

The new forum follows the survey, as the council continues to gather information to feed into its 10-year strategic plan (Long-Term Council Community Plan) for 2009-19.

The plan describes the activities Environment Waikato will fund and provide to achieve the goals the community considers important for its wellbeing.

Residents are encouraged to let Environment Waikato know their priorities by contributing their thoughts online at www.yourwaikato.co.nz(external link).

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