Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Halt to helicopter flights recommended pending review

13 June 2014

Halt to helicopter flights recommended pending review

A halt to Waikato Regional Council monitoring of farm effluent issues by helicopter has been recommended pending a review of the council’s environmental rule enforcement methods.

The recommendation to full council was made yesterday by a majority of the council’s environmental performance committee after it heard from farmer representatives that the flights can contribute to farmer stress levels generally.

In past years, the council has used helicopter flights to randomly monitor farms in the region to see if they are compliant with effluent management rules. The helicopter flights have been an efficient way to cover farms and identify those where on-ground follow-up inspections may be necessary to see if run-off into waterways may be occurring.

In recent years, however, the council has taken a more targeted approach, with flights over areas where effluent getting into waterways may be a particular problem and subsequent educative visits to all farms in those areas to look at effluent management issues. There were six such flights last year.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Chris Lewis, who said helicopter monitoring could be stressful for farmers, noted at the meeting that there had been a positive response to this new educative approach, which he supported along with the targetted helicopter monitoring. But he also pointed to the significant stress levels on farms and recently reported national farmer suicide statistics. He felt it was good to remove sources of stress where possible. Lisa Lile from the Dairy Womens Network also spoke of how helicopter monitoring could contribute to farmer stress levels.

Cr Theresa Stark, a farmer who is not a member of the committee, supported ending helicopter flights due to the “fear” they generated. This fear was not conducive to the council’s educative approach, she said.

Committee chair Clyde Graf, after hearing these comments, moved a motion that using helicopters cease pending further investigation of the council’s regulatory processes.

In discussion on the motion, Cr Stark and non-committee members Stuart Husband and Hugh Vercoe, also farmers, were all critical of helicopter flights on privacy grounds. Cr Husband stressed he supported monitoring generally just not with helicopters. Cr Graf said he also supported the purpose of monitoring but questioned helicopter use.

Cr Kathy White felt it was important to focus on education work with farmers. Cr Timoti Bramley suggested the council had to look hard at the way it operated because of the stresses helicopter monitoring could place on people.

Cr Paula Southgate supported a review of monitoring methods but wasn’t convinced flights should be halted pending the outcome of such a review.

Councillors Lois Livingston and Stu Kneebone expressed reservations about ending flights at this stage, with Cr Kneebone suggesting it would be a premature move without wider consultation.

In the end, the motion to cease flights pending a review was supported by councillors Graf, Bramley and White and opposed by councillors Kneebone and Livingston, while Cr Southgate abstained.

The recommendation will now be considered by the full council at its next meeting later this month.

No helicopter monitoring flights were planned till next month. A total of four had currently been planned for the rest of the year.

A second motion asking staff to report back on options for addressing concerns about effluent pond sealing rules was passed unanimously. It followed discussion on how the sealing rules could also be a significant source of farmer stress and difficult to enforce.

The formal wording of the first motion was “that the use of helicopters for monitoring and enforcement cease pending further investigation of council’s regulatory process by the appropriate committee for review and approval by council”.

The second was “that staff provide a report back to the next environmental performance committee meeting on the short and long term solutions to address regulatory rules with regard to effluent pond compliance, for further consideration by the environmental performance committee”.

The committee earlier heard staff praise for the way farmers had been responding to council calls for making improvements to their effluent storage capacity to help avoid applying it to paddocks at the wrong time. If effluent is applied when paddocks are too wet this increases the risk of it contaminating waterways. Having the right storage was becoming the “new normal” for farmers, a council manager said.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

3-Year Transport Plan: No Plans On Six Northland-Election Bridges

The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. More>>

ALSO:

Family Violence: Increasing Reporting But Fewer Resolutions

“We are aware the Police have embarked on a significant programme of change in how they respond to family violence. The data suggests that adequate resourcing including investing in staff training, support and culture change will be required for this to be effective.” More>>

ALSO:

Health: NZ Children Still Suffer Rickets From Lack Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency continues to cause rickets in young New Zealanders, new University of Otago research has found. The researchers say that their finding suggests that at-risk mothers and children should be better targeted for Vitamin D supplementation. More>>

Also GPs, Housing, Milk: PM Press Conference On The UN Security Council

In a press conference today the Prime Minister discussed the upcoming appointment of New Zealand to chair the UN Security Council. He said they would put pressure Asad in Syria and attempt to “jump start” negotiations between Israel and Palestine. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: State Houses Could Sell To Overseas Groups

Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. More>>

ALSO:

AND:

Gordon Campbell: On Climate Change Protest, And Iraq Training

For sheer style, humour and content fit for purpose, it would be hard to beat the Greenpeace protest at Parliament. The fact that the hanging of functioning solar panels from Parliament Buildings caused such spluttering outrage among fogeys old (David Carter) and young (David Seymour) added a Monty Python level of amusement to the whole event. More>>

ALSO:

Speech: Bill English Explains NZ Government To Australia

Here I am part of a successful government, now into its third term and hopefully with more to come. I want to offer some thoughts tonight about the business of government, from a centre-right perspective. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news