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'Council reflects on challenging year in Annual Report'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Environment Southland’s 2019/20 Annual Report shows the challenging year has had an impact on Council’s finances and delivery of work programme. The Council maintained essential services and focused on delivering on its key priorities, but it experienced a significant loss of income and a number of targets were not met. The report was adopted in an Extraordinary Meeting of Council on Thursday (26/11/20).

The 2019/20 Annual Plan forecasted a deficit of $187,000. During the year, it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic caused a loss of income from marine fees. However, thanks to a strong balance sheet and a reduction in expenditure, the Council ended the year with a surplus of $5,000.

Chief executive Rob Phillips said it was a tumultuous year, with serious floods and the COVID-19 lockdown. However, staff pulled together and delivered on the Council’s priorities and essential services.

"The record floods across the region in February and the pandemic have had a serious impact on the Southland community - socially, environmentally and economically, and on Environment Southland’s business.

"These significant events emphasise the importance of having a strong, resilient community. While the year did effect the work we expected to do, we have worked tirelessly this year to provide support to the Southland community during unprecedented times."

Chairman Nicol Horrell said while it was pleasing to see the Council in a positive financial position this year, the ongoing loss of income from COVID-19 and increasing expectations from the Government and the community meant the years ahead would not be easy.

"It is clear that future challenges, such as the Government’s new freshwater regulations, will require significant investment from the region.

"The effort we have made this year to ensure our organisation is resilient in the face of external pressures has been highly valuable, but in the future we need to continue focusing our attention on long term recovery and future resilience," Chairman Horrell said.

A list of the year’s highlights includes:

- The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan progressed through the Environment Court, with three interim decisions made

- 20 community freshwater values identified through the People, Water and Land programme

- Work continued on weaving community outcomes for freshwater with iwi outcomes for freshwater

- 50 farm environment plans were developed

- 964 incidents were reported to our compliance team

- 4 enforcement orders granted; 30 abatement notices issued; 9 prosecutions taken, 8 guilty verdicts.

- Improvements shown in intensive winter grazing practices, thanks to partnerships with industry leaders and key stakeholders

- 243 Clean Vessel Passes issued

- 85% of stop banks inspected and maintained

- 573 consents issued

- 10 science reports published

- 747 submissions received on toheroa protection proposals

- Most Improved River award received for the Waihopai River

- Regional Pest Hub launched

- 1847 school children educated on boating safety

- 200 staff worked in the Emergency Coordination Centre during the February floods, including Emergency Management Southland and Environment Southland staff

- Emergency Management Southland supported 1000 people at the Gore and Mataura Community Centres during the floods.

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