The need for or costs of maintaining scheme works can be alleviated by the characteristics or use of properties, or the actions of the occupiers. Where land is still essentially in its undeveloped state or has either reverted to native bush or swamp cover, or been planted in exotic forest, it is considered to be neutral in effect. Council considers that, where the alleviation effect of land uses or activities are of sufficient scale, then the contributor differential will not be levied on the qualifying area. Environment Waikato considers that, from both hydrological effect and administrative efficiency, 10 ha of land in qualifying uses is the minimum required to qualify for rating relief. Landowners affected will be able to apply to Environment Waikato to have this recognised.
For the purposes of this policy, plantation forestry is considered to have the same hydrological characteristics as native forest cover. It is recognised that cut over forest will have a diminished alleviator effect, however if the area is replanted, this reduction is only likely to occur for four to six years. In this situation it is proposed that the rate relief would remain in place, so long as the block was replanted.
This policy will be administered by means of a series of questions contained in the application form for alleviators (available from Environment Waikato from July 2002) and periodic audits using aerial photography.
The alleviator effects of hydro electric power generation operations and infrastructure have been taken into account in assessing the contributor effect (Mulholland and Hamilton, 2001).