Open season for environmental grants
Friday, 5 April 2013 8:30 a.m.
Community groups seeking funding for environmental projects in the Bay will now be able to apply for funding throughout the year, after a change to Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF).
The Regional Council is replacing the previous contestable funding system, held at a set time each year, with an ‘open season’ funding round that enables groups to apply for grants at any time from 1 July.
The Fund was established in 2000, and has so far distributed more than $7.5 million to almost 500 environmental projects throughout the region.
Last week’s Regional Council Operations, Monitoring and Regulation Committee endorsed the changes, which support projects targeting water quality and habitats, enhancing streams, lakes, harbours and estuaries. The Fund will also support innovative projects that optimise the use of the natural resources such as water and energy, or waste.
The He Matapuna Akoranga a Hawea Vercoe Memorial Fund, begun in 2010 after the death of the Regional Councillor, will be merged with EEF funding but keep its own identity, assisting appropriate projects submitted by Kura Kaupapa Māori, bilingual schools and Kohanga Reo.
Committee Chairman Malcolm Whitaker said the Council wanted to encourage groups wanting a small amount of seed funding to apply for grants.
“Groups are encouraged to apply for the amount of funding required for their project, whether it is $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000. Funding can be applied for at any time,” he said.
“This funding contributes to community development and has encouraged volunteers to improve their community environments over the years. For every $1 the council invests the return is $1.60 because of volunteer involvement.”
The changes to the Fund would improve efficiency and ensure it operated at maximum effectiveness for the same or lower cost.