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35 year 1080 consent needs public input

Letter to the editor – 35 year 1080 consent needs public input

Cr Jollands of Taupo District Council said in her Taupo Times column last week that she wants the Waikato Regional Council to publicly notify the 35 year 1080 poison consent.

For those who don’t know, WRC, Department of Conservation, and TBfree are in the process of applying for a resource consent to aerially spread 1080 poison across Waikato forests and streams for 35 years. Previous consents were for ten years. Selected stakeholders were pre-consulted last year. However, neither Taupo District Council nor Taupo residents were in that list – nor were other councils in the Waikato region - and most councillors only became aware of this consent within the last couple of weeks.

Why am I concerned that councils weren’t consulted?
It said in the consent application that councils WERE consulted. That’s a significant error.

Through an Official Information Act request, Cr Graf asked to see the consent application and submissions. The summary provided said that all local authorities were consulted, yet only one submission was received from Thames Coromandel District Council. That seemed odd so we wrote letters to councillors throughout the Waikato to ask why they hadn’t sent feedback. Almost all councillors that replied said they hadn’t been told about the consent.

WRC chief executive Vaughan Payne confirmed late last week that WRC did NOT consult with councils and that the statement to the contrary that was in the consent application was an error. WRC never intended to consult with local authorities because they’re not “affected parties.”

I’ve heard this statement about “affected parties” a few too many times lately (the carp farm debate is ringing bells). Most often I hear it in controversial topics, and most often in cases where the thing we need most is community feedback.

Decision-making based on misinformation - WRC councillors were asked in December to make a decision about whether to direct staff to publicly notify this consent, a decision that would have allowed the public to have a say. Councillors were told to consider the level of public interest in this consent; in the same paragraph they were told that only one council had given feedback. It made it look like people weren’t interested. But now that we know councils weren’t consulted, I’m surprised we received a single submission!

In my opinion, the WRC councillors’ vote at the December 2015 meeting (6-7) was based on misinformation and the decision about public notification should be reviewed.

So should Taupo District Council (and other councils) have been consulted?

I believe they should.

In Taupo, Turangi, and Rotorua, ‘brand’ is paramount. The perception of this area as being clean and green and a popular destination for tourists, hunters and fishermen, is worth vast amounts to our economy. Our community’s ability to thrive is dependent on the mountains, the rivers, the lakes, and the animals that inhabit these wild places. The cafes and restaurants benefit hugely from these attractions too. We spend a lot of money keeping these natural resources in a healthy state. The carp farm debate that raged recently demonstrates how important our environment is to us in this part of the world.

An economic analysis done nearly a decade ago identified hunting and fishing as being of more economic value to the Taupo-Turangi community than agriculture. Tourists are attracted here from all over the world because of the ability to fish and hunt in a pristine environment.

The pros and cons to the Taupo community
When aerial drops are undertaken, possums and rats are killed, but so are non-target bird species, deer and pigs, and domestic animals. Poison baits are dropped directly into streams. Toxic carcasses are left to decompose, which leads to secondary poisoning of a variety of species that feed on them, including trout. Every now and then there are headlines that affect Taupo’s international reputation, such as1080 prompts trout warning http://i.stuff.co.nz/environment/10550846/1080-prompts-trout-warning

The Taupo brand is affected by 1080 and many people in our community are affected parties. This 35 year 1080 consent is a major change, from ten years to 35 years, and it’s a complex, controversial topic. Councils should have been part of the conversation when the wellbeing of their community, and their ability to protect their brand is so clearly affected by this consent.

I agree with Cr Jollands. Do the right thing, WRC. Publicly notify the 1080 consent.

Kathy White, Waikato Regional Councillor for Taupo-Rotorua
Please note that this is my personal view, and it is not necessarily the view of Waikato Regional Council.

ENDS

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