Farmers question effluent-checking flyovers

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 11:02 25/06/2014

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Waikato farmers will know tomorrow if the regional council will halt the helicopter policing of effluent discharges.

The council will consider a recommendation to stop the flyovers and review its environmental enforcement methods, after farm leaders said the flights could raise farmers' stress levels.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis told council staff at a dairy industry group meeting in Hamilton this week he would like to see a clear Waikato strategy with clear rules if the review of the flyovers went ahead.

"Promote it, get clear rules, re-brand it, re-market it and make sure the farming community knows it black and white," Lewis said.

"Then there would be no excuses going forward."

Waikato Regional Council's investigations manager Patrick Lynch said he accepted the invasion of privacy argument put forward by farmers.

But he told farmers at the meeting that the flyovers were the most efficient means of monitoring compliance.

"At an efficiency level, I don't think there can be any argument of the efficiency of reviewing that many properties over that sort of period of time," he said.

The flights had been random but more recently had been used to check areas where effluent pollution of waterways might be a particular problem.

Education visits were then made to all farms in those areas to look at effluent management issues.

Lynch favoured a broad approach to monitoring compliance - the present practice on its own would only work with certain people, he said.

Educating farmers also had an important role.

Lynch said one of his staff said they got more progress from educating farmers in the last five years than the previous 20.

"People know there is a consequence and they're far more likely to engage in education."

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- Waikato Times

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