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Published: 2003-05-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has received almost 500 submissions to its Draft Annual Plan, many in support of its proposal to protect natural heritage in the Region. Last year the Plan attracted 50 submissions.

This year the number of submissions increased when a survey was included in the Council’s quarterly magazine EnviroCare. A total of 265 submissions were made through EnviroCare, 147 on Plan submission forms and submitters were also encouraged to respond electronically through the Council’s website. Another 45 wrote individual letters to have their say.

The Regional Council’s Draft Annual Plan asked if it should take a more active role in helping to protect natural heritage and if so, what types of projects it should support. Ratepayers also were asked if they would consider contributing another $3 to $5 a year to natural heritage protection.

Of the 372 who responded, 311 were keen to see the Council take a more active role and advocated protecting habitat for native species as their first priority. Of those, 285 said they were prepared to pay more to support these types of projects.

A total of 61 people opposed Council involvement in natural heritage.

Proposed improvements to Hamilton bus services also drew plenty of interest, with 108 opting for the current level of service, 44 asking for more services at an extra cost and 67 prepared to pay more for increased frequency, Sunday services and other improvements.

Submissions came mostly from individuals, although 26 environmental groups, nine community groups and 10 territorial authorities also submitted. Of these, 180 were from the Hamilton City area, 71 from Thames Coromandel with the rest from throughout the Region. Fifty-three submitters will present their views to hearings this week.

Amongst them will be the Council’s youngest submitter, 12-year-old Darryl Pinfold of Cambridge who wants the Council to protect rare native plants and animals and increase the amount of native forest in the Region.

Corporate Planner Kevin Collins said the large number of submissions demonstrated support for Environment Waikato’s goal of sustainable environmental management. He said Council welcomes the increased participation by the public.