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Annual Plan – stronger environmental focus

The Corporate and Strategic Committee recommended on Wednesday (5 June) that Hawke’s Bay Regional Council adopt its Annual Plan for the year ahead, with a stronger focus on regulating activities that can harm the environment.

The Annual Plan for 2019-20 continues the direction of last year’s Long Term Plan, to accelerate the Regional Council’s environmental focus across the region.

This year’s plan supports a stronger regulatory team, along with more focus on planning, science and support for environmental restoration, consistent with budget projections for the 2019-20 year.

Regional Council Chair Rex Graham endorsed the environmental focus of this plan.

“Forty percent of this year’s budget is dedicated to enhancing land, water and biodiversity, and to scientific monitoring of the region’s environment.”

“We’re working harder to protect what we have left and to restore what we’ve lost over time. This includes getting another 370,000 plants into the ground this year and our growing response to the challenges posed by climate change,” says Mr Graham.

Regional Council programmes that expect to tackle the effects of climate change include erosion control, water security, coastal hazards and the long-standing flood protection schemes.

Regional Council Chief Executive James Palmer is tasked with delivering the Annual Plan.

“In our region we have too many waterways choked with weeds and nutrients, too much soil lost from our land to streams, rivers and the marine environment – this is at the heart of our focus,” says Mr Palmer.

“Also, with our stronger focus on planning, consents, compliance and science, we’re using ‘carrots and sticks’ to incentivise the right practices and encourage landowners to work inside the rules as they change,” adds Mr Palmer.

The Regional Council confirmed the planned average rate increase of 7.9% for the 2019-20 year, as consulted on last year in the Council’s 2018-28 Long Term Plan. Nearly half of this year's 7.9% rate increase (3.7%) will fund the Regional Council's stronger focus on regulation.

The Regional Council did not consult publicly on this year’s Annual Plan, due to there being no significant changes to the work plan for 2019-20 from last year’s Long Term Plan. The Annual Plan 2019-20 will be formally adopted at the Regional Council meeting on 26 June 2019, then available online at hbrc.govt.nz, search: #annualplans.

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