GREATER Taree City Council has been visiting local shopping centres to talk to the community about its draft environmental action plan.
Council is suggesting a five per cent environmental levy from ratepayers could generate around $1.3 million annually to fund local environmental projects.
Council has been making a concerted effort to obtain feedback from the community on the draft plan, with council staff attending a number of local markets, sporting and community events over the past month and through the promotion of the community survey.
Results from the survey and public exhibition of the draft environmental action plan have been mostly positive, with 84 per cent of responses received to date in support of the proposal to introduce an environmental levy to help fund the projects in the plan.
Council is hoping to receive a lot more responses to the survey before it closes on October 14 and encourages local residents to have their say.
The survey is short and simple and can be completed on-line via council’s website at www.taree.cc/eapsurvey or by filling in a hard copy which can be found in the foyer of council’s administration centre and at any of council’s libraries.
The proposed environmental levy being investigated by Greater Taree City Council has potential spin-offs for local businesses and could be a major boost for the local economy.
The council is currently consulting with the community to determine its support for the introduction of a five per cent environmental levy, which could generate an annual amount of around $1.3 million to fund projects included in council’s draft environmental action plan. The levy could then be used as matching funding to potentially attract an additional $3.6 million through external grant programs.
This would result in a total boost to the local economy of nearly $5 million each year. This has been demonstrated by Great Lakes Council which has been able to almost triple its environmental rate since introducing it in 2001.
Owners of the Dingo Creek Rainforest Nursery, Kim and Peter Gollan, said that the implementation of an environmental levy would greatly assist local business by creating better forward planning for projects.
“Our nursery grows plants for revegetation projects, with most of our stock grown on the hope that they will be required, with very little stock actually ordered in advance,” Peter said.
“Being able to plan projects in advance will give local businesses more certainty and enable businesses like ours that require long lead times to be able to ensure that stock is available when required,” he said. Our region is lucky in that we have both a high quality natural environment and skilled environmental experts,” said Chris Scott of Sustainable Natural Resources Group.
“The Wingham Brush rainforest regeneration project was responsible for pioneering many of the bush regeneration techniques used today.”
Chris said that contractors who have developed expertise locally end up doing much of their work outside the region, so the proposed environmental levy would enable more work to be completed locally. “Expecting volunteers to do the work for free is wearing thin and depleting the goodwill of our local volunteers,” Chris said.
“The environmental levy would provide Greater Taree City Council the opportunity to take the burden off the volunteers by engaging local contractors to supplement their work and build their capacity to undertake local restoration projects.”
“An environmental levy would not only result in more work for local businesses, but that the work would be more reliable allowing for greater local investment,” according to Simon Skelton from Lower Mid North Coast Land Management Services.
“Regular, consistent work would provide more opportunities for the training and employment of young people, so they wouldn’t have to leave our region to find a job.
“It is frustrating to hear from external funding bodies that they are keen to offer funding to Taree council but can’t because council cannot often come up with the matching funding.
“The environmental levy will enable council to seek and obtain more grant funding so our region won’t keep missing out on these opportunities,” he said.