A SIGNIFICANT environmental funding disparity exists between Greater Taree City Council and Great Lakes Council.
The recent funding announcement by Myall Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead and minister for the environment, Robyn Parker laid bare the funding issue. Greater Taree City Council secured $47,500 and Great Lakes Council secured $705,000.
The roll call of funding read as follows:
* Greater Taree City Council $27,500 for Old Bar Beach sand dune restoration and $20,000 for Manning River bank stabilisation at Glenthorne.
* Great Lakes Council $215,000 for West Swamp wetland protection and management; $125,000 for a Wallambah River water quality and habitat improvement program; $95,000 to address water quality decline at Pipers Bay in Wallis Lake; $250,000 to trial sand nourishment from Winda Woppa to Jimmys Beach and $20,000 for an inundation coast zone management plan for Elizabeth Beach.
The success of Great Lakes Council in securing most of the ennvironmental funding can in part be attributed to its Environmental and Dredging Special Levy. According to Great Lakes Council, the levy has "enabled council to develop extensive relationships with State and Federal agencies in areas related to natural resource management. This has resulted in significant grant funds being allocated to key projects."
Greater Taree City Council has put forward the idea of introducing a levy in its draft Environmental Action Plan (EAP). The proposal is one of the ways council has identified that it could resource the plan and the environmental issues raised by the community.
The draft EAP is currently open for public submissions until August 23, with the plan on exhibition at the council administration centre and local libraries in the Manning, as well as on council's website.
Greater Taree City Council considers "an environmental levy the most effective way for council to be able to provide matching funding for applications to external grant programs."
Looking to the Great Lakes Council experience, it recently identified the environment as one of the four key directions in its community strategic plan, 'Great Lakes 2030'. In 2012 it surveyed the community and found "strong community support for environmental programs" and concluded that "Great Lakes residents rated protection of the waterways as the most important service provided by council and the protection of the natural environment as the sixth most important service.
Greater Taree City Council is hoping the draft EAP will ensure it has "the community on board, as we plan for the future of our beautiful Manning Valley environment," according to mayor Paul Hogan.
"It is vital we are all on the same page with our environmental action plan, and that community groups and businesses alike, have their priorities heard and understood."