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Published: 2009-06-12 00:00:00

Environment Waikato councillors have agreed to a proposed new local rate at Whangamata to pay for removal of mangroves from the local harbour and coastal area.

The proposal to introduce a targeted annual charge of $15 per Whangamata property for next financial year was contained in Environment Waikato’s draft 2009-19 Long-Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP).

It has now been agreed to by councillors during deliberations on the draft LTCCP. Formalising the draft LTCCP is now subject to its final adoption by council on 29 June.

The proposal for a targeted annual charge at Whangamata comes after three years of work by EW with the Whangamata community to develop a plan for the harbour and its catchment.

The plan is intended to ensure that management of the catchment and harbour is integrated and that it supports a healthy and productive environment. The plan contains a wide range of outcomes, including enhanced public access, improved water quality and increased habitat and biodiversity.

A component of the harbour and catchment plan involves more active vegetation management in the coastal marine area and, specifically, the management of mangroves in areas where they are having undesirable effects and can be removed without significant detriment to the harbour environment.

Under the proposal accepted by councillors, an annual charge of up to $15 per property could apply for a total of five years to cover projected resource consent and works costs.

Those costs are subject to finalisation of the plan and its implementation. From 1 July 2010, an additional $5 per property could be charged to help maintain the area where mangroves are removed. In the sixth year of the programme, and thereafter, the total per property charge would reduce to $5 for use on maintenance.

"If costs end up being less for any reason then the rate could be revised," said catchment services group manager Scott Fowlds. ""We will work closely with the local community as we finalise our planning."