The Sunshine Coast Council has approved a $7.7 million Environment Levy Program for 2015-16, part of which will be used to buy, protect and enhance environmentally significant land. The Council’s total budget allocation for environmental management in 2015-16 is $74 million.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the region’s environment was central to the local way of life and the investment would protect and enhance its natural assets for future generations to enjoy.
The levy program is a primary funding source for the Council’s long-term strategic approach to management of the local biodiversity, waterways and coastal foreshores. It involves a levy of $60 per rateable property, which remains unchanged for the new financial year.
Since being established in the early 1990s, the Environment Levy has funded the purchase of more than 2,761ha of land on the Sunshine Coast for conservation purposes. In 2013-14 the Council spent $6.13m on four new reserves totaling 398ha in area.
Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said the Council will spend $2.3 million in 2015-16 on buying, protecting and enhancing environmentally significant land. “This will add to our conservation estate,” Cr McKay said.
“This year alone, we’ve seen how important these purchases are, with the discovery of endangered species such as the water mouse and the giant barred frog. On other newly purchased properties we’ve identified some remarkable and unique wetlands.”
Cr McKay said the Levy enables investment in environmental champions of the future through programs such as Kids in Action. “We’ve also allocated $450,000 towards monitoring and research projects that will build our knowledge and help us protect and enhance biodiversity,” she said.
“Community groups who work tirelessly for the environment can continue their valuable work with an $845,000 investment through partnership and grant programs.
“Healthy waterways continue to be a theme with $620,000 allocated to coastal rehabilitation and $300,000 towards the Maroochy River Rehabilitation Project.
Cr McKay said the program also included $470,000 which will be invested in pest management projects including a pest action and engagement program.
“These projects will take us further towards our vision to become Australia’s most sustainable region – vibrant, green, diverse,” she said.
More information on the program can be found on the Council’s website at – http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au