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Published: 2004-03-03 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is gaining support for its proposals to better protect the Coromandel Peninsula.

Last month the Regional Council sent a brochure to most Thames-Coromandel District ratepayers outlining how it planned to improve rivers and streams, native bush and harbours on the Peninsula.

If they go ahead, the proposals would see most ratepayers paying around $14 a year towards the work for every $100,000 their property is valued. Local flood protection work as well as any work which directly benefits specific landowners would be largely paid for by the individual property owners.

Environment Waikato spokesperson Julie Beaufill said a number of people had expressed support for the work being proposed. They believed it would provide tangible benefits including avoiding flood damage, reducing pests and better protecting land and harbours.

“People think the work is important and needs to be done and generally, they think it’s fair that the community should contribute. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone agrees with how we are suggesting it be funded, or what they might be prepared to pay,” Ms Beaufill said.

“The proposals are still at the draft stage but we felt it was important to get information out as quickly as possible. People will have an opportunity to comment formally when the submission process opens for Environment Waikato’s draft Annual Plan in April. We are particularly interested in comments on how the works should be funded.”

Environment Waikato’s proposals involve three key areas - controlling possums and goats, improving river and catchment management and putting flood protection in place – not just on the Thames Coast, but right across the Peninsula. This includes a number of sites on the East Coast including, for example, Whitianga and Tairua.

In total, the Council proposes spending around $27 million over 20 years in the area. Of that, around $5.4 million has been tagged for flood protection on the Thames Coast.

“We’re working closely with people on the Thames Coast to address their specific issues. It will be Thames Coast residents – not others on the Peninsula – who will have to pay for the majority of any specific flood protection on the west coast,” Ms Beaufill said.

“Under our existing policy, Thames Coast ratepayers will be required to pay for 75 percent of any flood protection work completed. We’re hoping Central Government will also contribute. There will also be a contribution from all other Environment Waikato ratepayers around the Region.”

Ms Beaufill said ratepayers in Thames township are not affected by the Peninsula Project proposals.

“Thames residents already pay for this type of work in their area through a separate rate under the Waihou Valley Scheme. Our proposals are to cover other parts of the Peninsula where very little, if any, protection work is being done.”