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Published: 2003-09-12 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s new Annual Report looks at the Region’s environmental progress, as well as its own efforts to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The report, recommended for adoption by this week’s Corporate Services Committee, for the first time includes information about the Council’s own use of resources and its efforts to operate in a more sustainable manner.

The Regional Council acknowledged the need to be a responsible corporate citizen and to do its work in the most efficient and environmentally sustainable way possible.

“We realise that our day-to-day operations have environmental consequences but we need to understand them more fully before we can make improvements,” Chairman Neil Clarke said. Providing the information in the Annual Report was the first step.

While not a full sustainability report, the section provides information on statistics such as paper use, energy consumption, and waste. The Regional Council will work to improve this reporting in future. For example, energy use at the Council’s Hamilton building was in the ‘typical’ range determined by the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority. It was undergoing measures to improve energy efficiency, and an energy audit would be carried out this financial year along with an energy plan.

Mr Clarke said the Annual Report also highlighted progress made on a number of important environmental issues, such as Lake Taupo water quality and developing a Regional Waste Strategy.

“The resources we use to do our work have to be considered in light of the environmental improvements achieved. It is part of a larger calculation.”

Financially, the Council ended the year with a $1.2 million surplus. The Investment Fund had returned a disappointing 2.9 percent, but the historic return rate was still above the 7.5 percent target.

In other issues, the Region still exceeded Animal Health Board targets for controlling bovine Tb, with the number of infected cattle and deer herds now below two percent – well on track to achieve a bovine Tb-free Region by 2011. The Council had developed a Biodiversity Action Plan to build a healthy population of native plants and animals in the Region, aligning Environment Waikato’s internal activities and developing better collaboration with Regional partners.

The Clean Streams Project – which has just won a national management excellence award – has 116 farmers involved in fencing and planting waterways to improve water quality, including 227 kilometres of fencing so far.

The Council is planning to release a draft strategy for protecting water quality in Lake Taupo before the end of the year. It has completed the second year of the 2020 Taupo-nui-a-tia project between Environment Waikato, Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, Lakes and Waterways Action Group, DoC and Taupo District Council with funding from the Ministry of the Environment.
The Council had also worked hard in the past year to develop Memoranda of Agreement with Waikato iwi, and examined its own policies and practices to ensure staff showed sensitivity to Maori environmental issues.

The Council said a name change next year for its strategic plan to a Long-Term Council Community Plan better reflected its focus on building strong partnerships and creating enduring solutions that involved the whole community in caring for the Regional environment.