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 Anne Tolley’s
Callous Folly

Years ago, I remember someone in the Heath Ministry telling me off the record that regulatory oversight in this country largely consisted in ‘waiting for something to turn green or fall off somebody’ before the authorities would swing into action...

Last week’s conflict between Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and District Court judge Carolyn Henwood illustrated quite a few of the flaws in the system. More>>

 

Members’ Bills: Greens' Domestic Violence And Loans Bills Pulled From Ballot

Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence-Victims' Protection Bill introduces workplace protections for victims of domestic violence, including allowing victims to request paid domestic violence leave for up to 10 days... Gareth Hughes’ Bill allows Kiwis with student loans to defer their student loan repayments into a first home savings scheme. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA: Police Did Not 'Deliberately' Use Pepper Spray On 10-Year-Old

"When spraying the man, the officer did not properly consider the necessity of using pepper spray in a confined space, the likelihood that it would affect the other innocent passengers or the fact that he was using a more powerful spray." More>>

ALSO:

Donor Bill Passes: Full Income Compensation For Live Organ Donors

Unanimous cross-party support for the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill represents a critical step in reducing the burgeoning waiting list for kidney donations, according to Kidney Health New Zealand chief executive Max Reid. More>>

ALSO:

Earthquake Response: Emergency Legislation Prepared

Three new Bills have been drafted in the wake of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14 to ensure the government can enable affected communities to respond quickly and efficiently. More>>

ALSO:

Housing MPs: New Building(s) For Parliament

A new building will be erected on Parliament grounds to house Members of Parliament and their staff who currently work in leased accommodation in Bowen House. The plan has cross-Party support, apart from NZ First, said Parliament’s Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news