These grants will provide a boost for the local landscape and it’s great to see different parts of the peninsula benefit. But I’m well aware the NRM is a touchy subject.
All three local councils despise the system. Part of this is because councils have to collect the NRM levy and then pass it all on, acting as the bad guys dishing out the tax without the benefit of keeping the money. Another issue is the levy keeps increasing, jumping by a whopping 26 per cent last year, and further five per cent rises are locked in annually until 2019. But by far the biggest complaint is councils feel they could do a lot more if they kept the levy money for themselves and decided which environmental projects to prioritise.
We are covered by Natural Resources Northern and Yorke, which argues by pooling money from all around the area it has more leveraging power to attract additional funding than individual councils. Statistics from a couple of years back show the local NRM collected $2.8million locally and turned that into $7.5million by seeking extra cash, mostly from the federal government.
Despite this, there is a general feeling we do not see enough work happening to justify the levy – or, perhaps, the NRM’s existence. The grants announced today are widespread, and welcome, but only amount to about $40,000 on Yorke Peninsula. The good news is there are some significant projects on the horizon including the possible creation of a wildlife sanctuary and reintroduction of locally-extinct species down the bottom end.
Regardless of who is calling the shots, volunteers remain the best asset to Yorke Peninsula’s environment. Hopefully whatever the future holds for the NRM these volunteers can be supported as much as possible.
Looking after the environment is pretty important considering our region relies heavily on tourists coming for the pristine beaches, and on agriculture which requires effective pest and weed control.