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Published: 2015-12-16 00:00:00

Waikato regional councillors have for the first time voted to adopt a statement of intent to guide the council’s use of aerially applied 1080 for pest control purposes within the region.

While differences on 1080’s use remain amongst some councillors, the agreement to the new statement of intent marked a significant milestone, said chairperson Paula Southgate.

“I strongly support us using less and less 1080 over time but for now its use plays a vital role in protecting our forests and native birds.

“I’m pleased that the statement of intent draws together, in a single document unanimously agreed by the councillors at this week’s meeting, the principles which will underpin our ongoing use of 1080 in the Waikato.”

The principles include promotion of best practice, exemplary compliance standards, active collaboration, increasing the pest control “toolbox”, communicating and engaging with communities well, and being effective and efficient.

The development of the principles came after a variety of issues were raised by Cr Clyde Graf, particularly the fact that 1080 baits may appear in some waterways. This raised concerns for human and ecological health, he said.

The new statement of intent – which drew together a range of operational material into a single, coherent document - was recommended to guide future operations.

Meanwhile, a motion from Cr Timoti Bramley - asking the council to take a look at better protecting waterways from aerially applied 1080 during a review of the regional plan next year - also gained unanimous support at the meeting.

Then, in a tighter vote, a majority agreed the council’s consenting arm will be left to make a decision on whether to publicly notify an application for a new consent to aerially apply 1080 in the region. An alternative would have been to direct staff to actively seek public notification.

The background to the vote on whether to encourage public notification is that the council’s current aerial 1080 consent runs out next year. Along with the Department of Conservation and OSPRI, it is planning to shortly lodge new consent applications for aerial 1080.

Points made during discussions included the fact that public notification would give a wide range of people a chance to have a say. However, this process could be potentially longer and costly, and wouldn’t necessarily affect a decision based on law on whether to grant the consent.

The majority agreed with the integrated catchment management team lodging the application with the consenting arm of the council. The latter would then ensure an independent decision was made on whether to publicly notify the application.

“The question of whether the application does end up being publicly notified is now ultimately a question for the overarching consent processing system to determine,” said Cr Southgate.