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Monday
Jun162014

Chopper Inspection Flights Chopped

One of the most effective measures that the WRC has undertaken to maintain some semblance of control of widespread evasion of environmental controls throughout dairying areas has been "halted, pending a review of the Council's environmental rule enforcement methods."  

"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."

It would appear that as usual, the Feds have applied pressure - Waikato president Chris Lewis stated that:

"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 targeted helicopter monitoring. But he also pointed to the significant stress levels on farms and recently reported national farmer suicide statistics".

What a load of codswollop - to put reported national farmer suicide statistics down to inspection over-flights borders on the ridiculous, and severely stretches Fed credibility - not for the first time!.

And the claim that education is somehow doing the trick is frankly unbelievable in the face of reports of increased nitrogen and phosphorous levels in Waikato rivers, including the Waihou and Piako. There is simply no way that anything other than evidence based prosecutions  are having any effect whatsoever. And the downturn in pay-outs will no doubt  re-activate the age-old excuse that they cannot afford the necessary measures, though the the procession of 300HP rigs to the Waikawau Ramp has barely diminished.

A report by WRC Education & Compliance manager Rob Dragten further stretches credulity when without the slightest verifiable factual analysis he claimed that:

"the council's collaborative work with farmers and agricultural organisations was now starting to pay dividends for the environment".

He then went on to state that:

"We estimate that if the average Hauraki dairy farm doesn’t have enough storage to avoid irrigating over crucial winter months some 600,000 litres of effluent per property will run off to waterways that empty into the Firth of Thames.

"Given there are hundreds of dairy farms on the plains, that would translate into many millions of litres of effluent a year getting into waterways in that area alone. And, in one round of farm visits recently in the wider region, we found more than a quarter of farms had no storage at all."

Does this guy assume that we all came down in the last shower of rain?

Nothing energises farmers more than potential prosecution, and peer pressure.  But is seems that once again, the predominance of farming interests on the WRC has  seen the curtailing of effective measures to bring about change.

Pity about all those diddems in the cow-shed getting anxious, and stressed. Well, too bad - clean up their collective act, and there would be no need for stress.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

This recommendation seems like a singularly stupid idea given the effectiveness of this form of monitoring. Speedy, flexible, cost effective and an attitude changer. I have my doubts as to the genuineness of her rural Councilors concerns with respect to the cause and effect on Suicide rates.

Try a combo of high finacial indebtedness, social isolation and a ingrained attitude of entitlement is enough to send anyone suicidal especially when subject to independent scrutiny.

Theresa Stark has a lot of Goudy in her and finds any regulatory controls on farming practices an anathema to her narrow world view. At the moment a recommendation and the it would be very enlightening to see what the costs of the alternative methods would be, should the Full Council want the the same level of monitoring effectiveness to continue but without helicopters.

A veritable army of inspectors racing around the roads monitoring permitted activities? Sounds like a increase in cost to the rate payers to me. Or are they suggesting that Permitted Activity monitoring be reduced? That would a massive dereliction of Councils core duties in my opinion, make a nonsense of the plans objectives and run counter to the current healthy rivers initiative plan change.

Southgate abstained but she should show more leadership at the full Council meeting is she is to earn her salary.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Well the good Burghers have seriously hobbled staff in their attempts to bring the biggest diffuse polluters to heel. Led by that well known advocate for transparency for the Ag sector Theresa Stark the full Council have put a halt on further helicopter flights for dairy effluent compliance.

http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Community/Whats-happening/News/Media-releases/Helicopters-grounded-for-now-but-monitoring-to-continue--/

They have reduced the effectiveness of Council monitoring by 98%.

This is there type of legacy these reactionary farmers reps will have left , looking after their own.

Well done.

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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