Fraser Coast Environmental Levy axed but hope for the future of Koalas remains

The Fraser Coast Regional Council (FCRC) has axed the Environmental Levy in favour of a $75PA Infrastructure Levy in the 2014/15 Budget.
The Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council is alarmed and extremely disappointed at the decision made by FCRC to axe the Levy but has concluded that hope for the future of Koala Populations in the Fraser Coast is not lost.
The WBBEC has produced an ‘Environmental Levy Performance Report’ that assessed the whether or not the Levy resulted in beneficial environmental outcomes for the Fraser Coast Region during the 2010-2014 period in which all Fraser Coast ratepayers contributed to the Fund.
The 30 Page Report includes detailed assessments of the Financial Statistics, Environmental Levy Policy and Initiatives funded by the Levy for the 2010-2014 period.
The Report concludes that the Environmental Levy achieved a performance score of 3.5/10 and failed to meet the objective in which it was introduced for, to ‘Adapt and respond to the growing impacts of climate change by preserving and protecting the natural environment’.
The Key Findings of the Report conclude that the most significant contributing factor in the Levy’s failure to achieve the objective is due to the fact that the Policy allowed for the funding of initiatives that did not result in beneficial environmental outcomes.
The Levy raised a total of $4.56M between 2010-2014. $1.63M of revenue raised funded initiatives that protected and preserved the natural environment however, $1.39M funded initiatives that failed to provide any beneficial environmental outcome including some initiatives that resulted in negative impacts upon the natural environment.
WBBEC Manager Miss Emma-Kate Currie confirms that the report was produced after assessing all available FCRC data and documentation relating to the Levy and therefore concludes that the Report provides an accurate performance assessment for the period.
Miss Currie said, ‘The WBBEC has assessed literally 10’s of thousands of pages of documentation over the past 6 months to draw these conclusions and we can confirm that unfortunately the Levy has failed to meets its objective.’
The Report, however, has identified $2.35Million held in reserve as Funds Restricted for Environmental Levy and has made recommendations for the expenditure of those funds including the creation of a Koala Protection Trust governed by a Statutory Policy and Governance Committee.
‘In light of the fact that the Levy has failed to meet its objective, the WBBEC has recommended in the Report that the $2.35M be transferred to a Koala Protection Trust to assist the FCRC to achieve its commitment to protect Koala Populations in the Fraser Coast. We have identified that if all remaining funds are allocated exclusively to initiatives that protect Koalas via the Trust, it will increase the Levy performance score from 3.5/10 to 8.7/10 ensuring that a combined $3.99M of revenue raised will have funded initiatives that protect and preserve the natural environment’, said Miss Currie.
The WBBEC is urging all FCRC Councillors to support and implement the Recommendations included in the Report to ensure a long term commitment not only to protect koalas but the overall environment in the Fraser Coast.
FCRC made a commitment in 2013 to protect koala populations in the Fraser Coast via the development of a Koala Strategy and Action Plan supported by the establishment of the Koala Consultative Committee. The creation of the $2.35M Koala Protection Trust via the transfer of Environmental Levy Reserves is a fantastic opportunity for FCRC to uphold and further demonstrate their commitment to preventing the Fraser Coast Koala Populations facing extinction in the near future.
The WBBEC has launched a petition calling for the creation of the $2.35M Koala Protection Trust and is urging Fraser Coast residents to sign on and assist in the long term protection of Koalas in our region.
A hardcopy of the Petition can be signed at ‘Janet’s Art Books’- 264 Kent St Maryborough and will be available online at the WBBEC facebook page: from Thursday 26th June 2014.

WBBEC Environment Levy Performance Report 2010-2014. Final

Appendix A- References- WBBEC Environmental Levy Performance Report 2010-2014

Appendix B- Environmental Levy -Revenue and Expenditure- 2010-2014

Appendix C- WBBEC Shoreline Erosion Managment Plan- Development and Implementation Report

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