Tough line sought on use of 1080

00:04, Oct 26 2009

Marlborough district councillor Tom Harrison wants the council to take a stand over the use of 1080 poison, following the lead of Kaikoura and other district councils.

Kaikoura District Council Mayor Kevin Heays said last week he would ask his councillors next month to consider banning 1080 within the district's borders.

Mr Harrison said he wanted fellow councillors to be given a chance to have their say on the pesticide's use in Marlborough.

"The council can make a strong stand on this."

The poison is used in Marlborough by the Animal Health Board as part of bovine tuberculous eradication and the Department of Conservation to control possum numbers.

This year, the Westland District Council agreed to oppose aerial 1080 use in drinking water catchments. It still supports ground drops.


Taupo District Council also decided this month to develop a sustainable alternative possum eradication and trapping programme and immediately abolish all aerial 1080 poison drops.

Mr Harrison applauded those moves and said he would like to see similar action in Marlborough, starting with banning aerial drops and eventually prohibiting all use.

"It's evil and cruel. It's a painful death and it goes right through the food chain."

He had spoken to environmental policy committee chairwoman Jill Bunting about her committee discussing 1080 use. "That way we can at least look at both sides."

Ms Bunting said she was also against the use of 1080, but the council was in a unique position compared with the Kaikoura, Westland and Taupo district councils because it was the consenting authority for 1080 use.

Marlborough is a unitary authority, which means it is responsible for the same roles as a regional council. This includes hearing resource consent applications for 1080 use.

"We could express strong disapproval ... personally, I would like to see it banned but I don't know how the heck, as a council, we could make ... a Government authority ... stop using it," she said.

Council regulatory manager Hans Versteegh said councillors could oppose use of 1080, but the council was still legally required to process consent applications to use the poison.

However, that would mean councillors on the hearings committee would not be able to consider 1080 applications, he said.

Six councillors  Ms Bunting and Mr Harrison, as well as Cliff Bowers, Liz Davidson, Jenny Andrews and Graeme Barsanti  make up the committee.

Mr Versteegh said the council usually appointed a commissioner to hear 1080 applications anyway, as some councillors had already expressed views on the poison's use.

Mr Harrison has said he would not be involved in 1080 hearings as he could no longer be impartial.

Mayor Alistair Sowman said he would talk to councillors before deciding if 1080 could be discussed at the environmental policy committee.

He was aware of moves by other councils, but the situation was different for Marlborough.

"[They're] not the consenting authority so it's easy to do ... we are the consenting authority and have to treat consent applications within the law and [1080] is not illegal."

His own feelings on the poison were mixed. "I realise we've still got a possum issue in Marlborough and I'd like to see some other method than aerial dropping of 1080, even another substance, but what?"



The Marlborough Express asked other district councillors what they thought about the use of 1080 and if they would like the opportunity to discuss it in council chambers. Councillor Warwick Brice could not be contacted.

Peter Jerram: "I don't mind having a discussion ... but [any decision] shouldn't be confused with people's emotions. I couldn't support a ban of it ... nothing better has been found yet to control [possum numbers]. For our country's exports and the survival of our meat and milk exports, there isn't any other option."

Andrew Barker: "I don't have a problem with a discussion ... but I don't think it will go anywhere. Until something else is developed, the economy depends on controlling TB in animals. I support it at this stage."

Cliff Bowers: "I have no problem with discussing 1080 at committee level. As far as making a stand, the information I've always been given is it's OK but if there's evidence that it's not OK ... then I would look at that."

Gerald Hope: "I have no problem with it being discussed. The only issue is, is there anything new to talk about? We'd all like to take a stand but what are the options? In the interests of the New Zealand export industry, we have to manage our pests."

Graeme Taylor: "I'd look forward to a discussion. I don't know enough about it. I need to hear from the [experts]."

Jenny Andrews: "I think it's something that should be discussed. I'd like to hear both sides and get familiar with it before I say yes or no."Liz Davidson: "I think that's a good idea, but we would need to hear from ... all sides. I hate it, but what else do we have?"

Francis Maher: "There can be no harm in talking about it. We are having a meeting with the Animal Health Board on Tuesday and I will defer comment until after that."

Graeme Barsanti: "I have no hassles with it coming up in discussion ... but I want to hear from both sides of the argument, not just one side. No-one has convinced me that it is any worse than many other poisons around."

The Marlborough Express