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

 


Helicopters grounded for now but monitoring to continue

Helicopters grounded for now but monitoring to continue

Waikato Regional Council today confirmed it will suspend use of helicopters for monitoring dairy farm effluent compliance pending a review of its methods for checking farmers are working within the rules to protect waterways.

Although ground-based monitoring will continue, stopping helicopter monitoring will affect the council’s ability to exercise its regulatory functions as effectively as in the past, the council heard.

Today’s decision follows an earlier recommendation from the environmental performance committee for a halt to the flights, pending such a review, after it heard about the stress helicopter monitoring caused farmers.

During today’s meeting the council also agreed to establish a working party, with nominated representatives from the dairy leaders forum and councillors Alan Livingston, Clyde Graf and Stuart Husband.

The working party has been tasked with investigating the various options for monitoring farm effluent systems and bringing a recommendation back to the council within four months identifying the best options to undertake regular monitoring.

During a lengthy debate about the pros and cons of helicopter monitoring, some councillors questioned the link between farmer stress levels and helicopter monitoring but nevertheless agreed it was timely to review monitoring methods.

In past years, the council used helicopter flights to randomly monitor farms in the region to see if they were compliant with environmental rules. The helicopter flights were seen as an efficient way to cover farms and identify those where on-ground follow-up inspections might be necessary to determine whether effluent run off into waterways was occurring.

In more recent years, however, the council has taken a more targeted approach, with flights only over areas where soil conditions mean effluent is more likely to get into water. Staff look from the air to see who has obvious signs of effluent discharges to water so compliance activities can be focused on them and the fixing of discharges which contribute to water pollution.

All other farms flown over then receive an on the ground visit at an appointed time to help ensure their effluent systems can comply with rules all year round, especially during winter’s wetter weather. Farmers have been advised about effluent system design companies for help if they need to make effluent system improvements. There has been positive feedback from farmers on this advisory approach.

A staff report to today’s full council meeting noted that, besides helicopter flights and on-the-ground inspections and advisory work, the council was working closely with the dairy industry and others to improve farmer compliance with environmental protection rules.

The current helicopter flights would mean one aerial inspection per farm every six years. It was estimated that 100 farms could be inspected from the air in the same time it would take to conduct ground-based inspections of one or two farms.

Staff felt that ground-based inspections by prior appointment alone was unlikely to be as effective in detecting rule breaches as helicopter use. The report said ground only inspections could mean increased costs, fewer farm inspections overall, more unannounced ground-based visits and more inconvenience for farmers.

“Ceasing using the helicopter at the present time is likely to mean that the very small proportion of farmers who deliberately seek to hide significant non-compliance are much less likely to be caught,” the report said.

After the meeting, council chair Paula Southgate said that, whatever the outcome of the review, it was important for the dairy sector, farmers and the council to continue all the positive work they were doing together to protect the health of waterways from effluent.

“The dairy sector and individual farmers deserve a great deal of credit for the effort they have put into lifting environmental performance in recent years. As we work through the review process, it is critical that we keep our eye on the need to protect our rivers, streams and lakes. Their health is very important to all our communities.”

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