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Published: 2004-06-30 00:00:00

Waikato ratepayers will contribute $5.62 per property to set up a programme to protect special places around the Region under Environment Waikato's Long-Term Council Community Plan adopted today.

The Council says there is strong public support for the proposal to protect special places for future generations and provide outdoor access and open space for residents. Of nearly 1500 submissions on the proposal, 66 percent supported the charge. Many others were in favour of the objectives, but felt the work should be undertaken by some other level of government.

The Council says the Natural Heritage Partnership Programme will give it a much-needed tool to protect iconic landscapes and small but crucial patches of native bush. The programme recognises that development pressure on the Region will continue to grow, and that in many cases opportunities to protect and enhance those places will be lost unless action is taken.

The programme will raise about $800,000 a year. Successful applications will need to meet programme criteria and be approved by the Council.

Environment Waikato is currently helping the development of two projects - the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust project to build a pest proof fence and restore indigenous plants and animals, and Thames-Coromandel District Council’s efforts to make Te Kouma farm permanently protected and available to the public. Submissions also identified other candidates for potential funding.