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Published: 2016-05-27 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is supporting central Government plans to streamline the regulatory regime for pest control nationally, saying it will improve efficiency and generate significant cost savings locally.

The Government’s move follows recommendations from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in 2011, and a letter from the council’s chairperson Paula Southgate endorsing a more consistent approach.

“The Government is to be congratulated on this initiative as we support the underlying intent to make things more streamlined and efficient from a regulatory perspective,” Cr Southgate said, following yesterday’s council meeting which approved a submission on the Government’s proposal.

Through its consultation document “Streamlining the regulatory regime for pest control”, the Ministry for the Environment suggests standardising and simplifying the regulatory controls on toxins for pests. The proposals include removing current controls under the Resource Management Act (RMA) that apply to the use of 1080 and brodifacoum for animal pests, and rotenone for pest fish.

A staff report noted that a Government business case stated most regional council plans made under the RMA require resource consent for certain uses of these toxins. The report said it acknowledged these requirements duplicate the existing comprehensive controls under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act and other laws. “The review of the regulatory framework proposes that the HSNO Act is the mechanism to be used to control and manage safety of [veterbrate toxic agent] use in a consistent manner for the whole country,” the report said.

The submission said an independent review last year of the council’s 1080 use had highlighted the significant complexities in the national regulatory framework for the toxin and the need to improve consistency. Cr Southgate subsequently wrote to the minister – following a resolution from council - asking for greater national consistency and common standards for the aerial application of 1080.

The council’s submission endorsed at the meeting said it was believed the Government’s proposals would result in operational efficiencies over 1080 use through allowing operators to plan with certainty and savings for Waikato ratepayers through reductions in compliance costs. 

However, the submission also raised a number of issues the council has concerns about. These include making sure that pest control operations carried out under national rules, rather than local resource consents, don’t lead to regional councils having to pay for the costs of monitoring the results of pest control. Currently such costs can be recouped through the resource consenting regime. And the council does not support having to monitor compliance with operations carried out under national rules.

The council also wants to ensure that:

  • operators working under any new national rules get the okay from landowners within operational areas
  • owners and users of water takes are consulted and offered alternative supplies if required.
  • councils are informed about operations in case they receive public inquiries.

Councillors yesterday also confirmed an alteration to the submission related to the potential risks of aerially applied toxins getting into water. The alteration said the council is supportive of increased transparency around the potential risks, which may include effects in waterways, related to vertebrate toxic agents, and the need to ensure that appropriate levels of consultation are maintained, which includes landowners.