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From Warren Maher Waikato Regional Councillor for Thames Coromandel.

With the election now behind us and the final makeup of Parliament decided in the next three weeks, WRC councillors along with the rest of New Zealand will wait to see what affect this will have on a number of existing and proposed policies. With pre-election talk around repealing the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill (the replacements for the Resource Management Act) as well as the Climate Adaption Act which is waiting in the wings, the future of these bills is uncertain. WRC Coastal Plan is currently out for submissions and with 20 sections from Air- discharges, through to Water- use, take, dam or divert, it is a large document at over 300 pages. There are a number of sections that impact our communities, especially biosecurity, disturbances and depositions (dredging), ecosystems (mangroves), and public access and recreation. I suggest you use the WRC website, search Regional Coastal Plan, and then click on the section that is important to you. It is critical to submit before submissions close on 14th November and include your comments around any of the overviews, objectives, rules or standards to have your voice heard. We are currently reviewing submissions from the public and stakeholders to inform our policy on freshwater management (which may also alter if the National Policy on Fresh Water Management changes with the new government).

The other big piece of work happening at the moment is the review of our Long-Term Plan, which sets budgets for the next ten years, with a review in three years. This plan looks at everything from internal cost and efficiency, levels of service, all types of funding and effectively sets the rates for the coming years.

Two items of good news:- firstly, the successful bid for government funding for resilience and remediation of storm damage of $708k for Thames Coromandel and $331k for Grahams Creek remediation Tairua; and secondly, the news that WRC has worked with landowners to retire 1726 hectares of land, plant 950,000 native trees and protect 137km of waterways in the 2022/23 year. This is a great story of WRC and the community working together.

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