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6.2.8 Guidelines for Assessment and Enforcement Course of Action to Assess Complaints Regarding Off-Target Spray Drift

In the event of receiving any complaint(s) regarding off-target spray drift, Waikato Regional Council will undertake the approach outlined in parts a) to d) below, or undertake aspects of this approach, to determine whether or not the spray drift has caused a significant adverse effect:

  1. Waikato Regional Council1 will make an assessment of the situation. This assessment will take into account the:
    1. Witness(es) account of incident
    2. types of symptoms and adverse effects apparent
    3. meteorological conditions at the time of the incident2
    4. method of application
    5. type of agrichemical(s) used
    6. types of area affected3
    7. notification used
    8. qualifications of the applicator
    9. any previous validated complaints received concerning the same property or contractor.
  2. Waikato Regional Council will undertake a field investigation of the complaint, and interview the complainants and the property owner, manager and/or applicator of the site where the discharge occurred.
  3. Waikato Regional Council will take samples4 of the affected area and have these samples assessed by a certified laboratory.
  4. Waikato Regional Council will refer the complaint to another agency with expertise in this area, including:
    1. a health agency (e.g. Health Waikato)
    2. the Civil Aviation Authority
    3. the Ministry of Agriculture
    4. a territorial authority. Course of Action of Considering Enforcement

In the event that a complaint(s) concerning spray drift is deemed to be justified and the adverse effects are deemed significant through the processes outline in Section, then Waikato Regional Council will take the following approach towards enforcement:

  1. The property owner, occupier or manager, or the contractor, will be asked to take whatever action is necessary to mitigate the adverse effects of the discharge, and avoid future spray drift incidents. Waikato Regional Council will outline or negotiate with the discharger a timeline to undertake and complete that work; or
  2. Enforcement proceedings will be initiated. Waikato Regional Council will apply for an enforcement order and/or issue an abatement notice, and/or use other enforcement mechanisms provided in Part XII of the RMA.


Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Sections to
The steps listed in Section provide a checklist for Waikato Regional Council to follow when addressing complaints regarding spray drift. Section part a) provides the criteria for assessment that should be used by a Council officer. Consideration of each separate factor a) i) to ix) is an important first step in the assessment of a complaint, and will usually be the first questions asked when the complaint is received. The steps in parts a) i) to ix) are important in assessing:

  • whether or not the complaint is legitimate
  • whether there is enough information to establish a cause and effect
  • if the discharge had, or had the potential to have, a significant adverse effect.

Section part b) will be undertaken if there is enough information received via parts a) i) to ix) to warrant a field investigation. Interviews of the complainants, property owner/manager and/or applicator are important in determining the facts (including determination of whether the problem has been ongoing or whether it is a ‘one off’ incident).

Section part c) will be undertaken if, through the processes of parts a) and b) this is warranted. Sample collection may include foliage, water, soil and surface samples. Sample collection may also include photographic evidence. Sample collection will be undertaken in accordance with Waikato Regional Council’s Spray Drift Investigation Manual or other Guidelines such as the Ministry of Health’s Interim Guidelines for the Investigation and Surveillance of Agrichemical Spray Drift Incidents5.

Through the investigation of a complaint the need for enforcement action may become evident. Decisions on enforcement will need to be made on a casebycase basis, however, guidance is provided in Section parts a) and b) as to when Waikato Regional Council will consider undertaking enforcement action, and in what form such action may take.


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