Agrichemical contractors operating without certification and in breach of the regional rules pose a potential risk to the community, warns Waikato Regional Council.
The council has received complaints from the public that landowners have not notified their neighbours prior to agrichemical spraying, and that agrichemical spraying has ended up drifting on to other people’s property. Complaints tend to relate to aerial and ground based machinery.
The rules require neighbours to be notified before spraying takes place, so that neighbours know what is being sprayed, and can take appropriate precautions to avoid contact with the spray, such as disconnecting roof rainwater collection systems.
“The risk to people’s health, property and livelihood increases when people are not notified ahead of spraying operations. As we have looked into these complaints, we have also found that some contractors are not properly trained or qualified to spray agrichemicals,” said council incident response team leader Derek Hartley.
“We have begun contacting contractors in the Waikato to establish what qualifications they hold. We are working hard to educate landowners and contractors of their obligations and want to remind people of the consequences of ignoring the rules,” Mr Hartley said.
The Waikato Regional Plan requires every contractor or contractor employee undertaking land-based agrichemical spraying to hold a registered chemical applicator (RCA) certification or to be under on-site supervision of a person who is an RCA.
A contractor is defined under the rules as being any person or organisation who applies agrichemicals for hire or reward and who is not otherwise an employee of the owner, occupier or manager of that land - for example a farm worker spraying agrichemicals at his usual place of employment.
“Landowners are responsible for notifying their neighbours regarding spray operations. They are also responsible for ensuring contractors being brought in to do the work are suitably qualified – failing to do so can leave them open to liability for any breaches of the regional rules,” Mr Hartley said.
People wanting information about the agrichemical application rules can visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz or freephone 0800 800 401.