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

 

Two Years With New Methods: Crime Stats Show Increase Led By Burglary

The two years of data show an increase in the total victimisation rate of 3.1 per cent, with 12,060 more victimisations in the 2015/16 year when compared to 2014/15 year. From this increase, 72 per cent is attributable to burglaries. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Relocation Grants: 12 Grants Paid So Far

Since the policy took effect one month ago, 12 applicants have received the non-recoverable grant, supporting 32 people. $54,508 has been paid out, covering things like moving costs, bond, rent in advance and letting fees. More>>

ALSO:

Vaccine Funding Change: HPV Vaccines For All Children

PHARMAC has today announced changes to funded vaccines, which will benefit an extra 100,000 people... The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available for all children and adults up to the age of 26 years, and boys will now be included in the HPV school vaccination programme. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Opinion Polls For Key And Trump Defy Gravity

What is going on? Donald Trump got confirmed as the Republican presidential candidate at a bizarrely chaotic political convention… and promptly received an upwards bump in the polls to where he’s now rating ahead of Hillary Clinton, for only the second time this year. More>>

Sugar: Auckland Leisure Centres Axe Unhealthy Drinks

Auckland Council is to stop selling drinks that are sweetened by sugar from vending machines at its leisure centres in a bid to try to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Todd McClay’s Faulty Memory

Time and again, whenever an issue arises the initial response by government is to deny or diminish the problem – nothing to worry about here, everything’s OK, move on. Then, hang on. In line with the usual pattern, as embarrassing details emerged into daylight, the story changed. More>>

ALSO:

Labour's 'Future Of Work': Major Reform Of Careers And Apprenticeships

The next Labour Government will transform careers advice in high schools to ensure every student has a personalised career plan, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

State Investments Management: Treasury Likes IRD, Not Education Or Corrections

The Inland Revenue Department has scored an 'A' in the first tranche of the Treasury's investor confidence rating for state agencies that manage significant Crown investments and assets, gaining greater autonomy as a result, while the Corrections and Education ministries gained a 'C' rating. More>>

ALSO:

Govt Goal: NZ To Be "Predator Free" By 2050

Prime Minister John Key has today announced the Government has adopted the goal of New Zealand becoming Predator Free by 2050... “That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news