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Busy year with many highlights

Busy year with many highlights

24 September 2014

The Taranaki Regional Council today adopted its Annual Report for 2013/2014, which Chairman David MacLeod says paints a picture of a thriving region making good progress on many fronts.

“It was a busy year with many satisfying outcomes in important areas such as the environment, transport services and planning, hazard management and our core resource management duties,” he says.

“It’s also pleasing that overall, our activities for the year were comfortably within budget and the Council remains in a strong financial position.”

The report is being prepared for publication on its website, www.trc.govt.nz. A summary will also be published in community papers in late October. Highlights include:

Healthy report for rivers: The Council has continued its practice of reporting directly to the regional community on the results of its extensive monitoring of water quality. Long-term trends to June 2013 are the best ever in terms of the ecological health and the physical and chemical state of our waterways.

The latest report card is available online at www.trc.govt.nz.

Riparian management: 99.5% of Taranaki dairy farms have riparian plans and implementation is ramping up. 80% of ring plain streambanks are now fenced and 65% are protected with vegetation. In 2013/2014 the Council supplied a total of 467,328 plants to farmers, taking the total to more than 3.5 million since the programme began.

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Key native ecosystems: The Council has identified 178 Key Native Ecosystems, most of them on private land, and almost half these had Biodiversity Plans by June 2014. These allow the Council and the landowner to work closely on measures to protect and enhance these special areas with fencing, planting and predator control, and open up new potential pathways for funding assistance. Sixty-four Biodiversity Plans have now been prepared, covering 2,528 hectares.

Regional gardens: Visitor numbers continue to increase at Pukeiti, Hollard Gardens and Tupare. At Hollard Gardens, the highlight was the Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, opening the new Hollard Centre, a multi-purpose, all-weather events venue. At Tupare, refinements and improvements to the house and gardens continued, and at Pukeiti, the focus was also on continued improvements and development of a longer-term Asset Management Plan that heralds exiting future developments.

Flood control schemes: The final stage of the Lower Waiwhakaiho flood protection scheme upgrade was completed, bringing the scheme’s standard of protection to 1% (1 in 100 years), and work began on a three-year, $3 million project to achieve a similar level of protection for Waitara. The first stage is under way and detailed design has started on the more complex parts of the project.

Transport services, advocacy and planning: The new Hawera-New Plymouth Connector bus service has been a resounding success since its launch in February 2014, carrying more than 8,000 people in its first four months. The Council advocated strongly for a new regional highways funding mechanism to replace the ‘R funds’ arrangement expiring next year, meeting success when the Government announced a proposals for new contestable regional highways improvements fund. Separately, a proposed new ‘Accelerated Regional Roading Package’ includes the Normanby overbridge and SH3 north, two projects which the Council has also strongly advocated for.

Resource consent processing: The Council granted 632 consents during the year – the highest recorded and an increase of 41.7% over the previous year. For the 14th consecutive year, all consents were processed within Resource Management Act timelines.

Financial: Putting revaluations aside, the Council finished the year with a budget surplus of $0.9 million, equating to about 5% of its turnover and achieved by holding costs and increasing revenue by roughly equal measures. The Council’s financial position remains strong with no public debt.

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