Auckland Council is proposing replacing the transitional rates grants which are for Auckland landowners who have voluntary natural heritage protection covenants on their properties and were past recipients of legacy rates remissions schemes that were removed in 2018.
What covenants provide for:
A natural heritage protection covenant is an agreement between Auckland Council (or another authorised body) and landowners who have important natural heritage areas on their property.
These agreements bind current and future landowners.
They can provide:
habitats for native plants and animals
areas of protected native ecosystems
improved stream health
protection against erosion.
What Council wants to do:
The Council wants to develop a permanent alternative that will replace transitional rates grants to support natural heritage protection from the next financial year.
The Tree Council’s submission is below if you would like to use these points in your own submission:
The Tree Council SUPPORTS the introduction of a permanent rates rebate scheme to support the protection of natural heritage in the Auckland region.
The size of the rebates must be significant enough to motivate landowners to agree to having permanent restrictive covenants placed on the titles to their land to protect natural heritage, because there will be a view that in doing so the value of the property will be decreased.
The size of the rates rebate applied should be commensurate with the natural heritage features that are to be protected. A sliding scale might be appropriate, for example a stream or wetland with riparian plantings might qualify for a full rates rebate whereas a single, partially degraded stream might qualify for a smaller rebate.
All land currently subject to natural heritage protection covenants should be reassessed to ensure that the natural heritage features to which the covenants relate still exist and remain worthy of protection. If they do still exist then such covenants should be kept in place with appropriate rates rebates applied.
In respect to any fresh applications for rates rebates in return for natural heritage protection covenants the application and approval process must be as quick and simple as possible and it must be free to the land owner. Fresh applications should be assessed within weeks not months and if they qualify the paperwork provided as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Any legal costs associated with preparing and registering the covenants must be borne by Auckland Council and not the land owner.