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

Gordon Campbell: On The Budget

It may seem like Oliver to be so bold as to ask the Finance Minister for more gruel – but what the Dickens, Steven Joyce… is this Budget really as good as it gets?

Supposedly, the public was going to receive significant rewards – an election year lolly scramble no less – for the eight years of belt tightening that they’ve endured, and for the rundown of essential public services.

Well, what Budget 2017 delivered instead in Education and in Health were allocations barely sufficient to maintain the current levels of service delivery More>>

Scoop Full Coverage: of Budget Announcements & Reaction
Latest: Scoop Search

 
 

Carer Settlement: Threat Of Staff Exodus In Mental Health

As a result of the recent pay rise awarded to their aged care and disability sector colleagues, many staff in non-government mental health and addiction organisations are considering leaving to join these workforces. More>>

ALSO:

Climate Policy: New Zealand Set To Blow Its Carbon Budget By 27%

The Government’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows New Zealand is set to release 647.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2013 and 2020 – 137 million tonnes more than we are allowed under the Kyoto Protocol. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Christchurch Considers Cathedral, Stadium: Cathedral Working Group Report Released

“About half of Christchurch wants to see the cathedral reinstated, the other half wants something new and more modern, but really, everyone just needs a decision." More>>

ALSO:

Auditor-General Stands Down For Investigation: Gordon Campbell On (Not) Taking Responsibility

So Martin Matthews, our current Auditor-General wishes he could have detected “earlier” the fraud that occurred on his watch at the Ministry of Transport. Hmmm. But he could have detected it earlier, surely? That’s the point. More>>

ALSO:

NGOs Pleased: Govt To Halt Collection Of Client Data

Brenda Pilott, the chair of ComVoices and national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa, congratulates the government on its decision to call a halt to the collection of individual client data until the concerns of not-for-profit service providers have been worked through. More>>

ALSO:

Gosh: Blasphemy Law Repeal Struck Down

Chris Hipkins, the MP who tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to add our Blasphemy Law to the Statutes Repeal Bill, said this was a "sad day for freedom of speech, tolerance, and leadership". More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 

Opening The Election Supporters

 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election