Zero tolerance for gas guns

Vineyard owners with errant bird banger machines might find themselves slapped with an instant $300 fine if they are found breaching council bylaws.

The Marlborough District Council is considering implementing a zero tolerance approach to gas guns being used outside the hours approved under its bylaw.

But Wairau Valley man Cliff Smith said a zero tolerance policy would be too hard to enforce.

Mr Smith lives near a vineyard divided into three sections.

"You hear [the] bang from half a kilometre away and there's no way to ascertain where it's coming from," he said.

"If the council came out here and stood in my paddock, they wouldn't know either."

While it didn't affect him and his wife as much because they lived in a house with double glazed windows, there were "dozens" of vineyards that used the guns, he said.

He believed the council should review their bylaw to account for the increase of vineyards in Marlborough.

Environmental health officer Gina Ferguson said the council received about 30 complaints every year in the six to eight weeks leading up to harvest.

The complaints included gas guns being fired during the banned hours between 8pm and 7am, as well as shots being fired more often than the rules allowed.

Complaints with vague information about a possible location of a misfiring bird banger were very difficult to deal with, she said.

It was hard to find the offending gas gun in the dark when noise carried over long distances, she said.

Vineyard owners were responsible for complying with the rules.

All properties using the guns were also required to have a notice on the road with the name and phone number of the person responsible for operating the gun.

The council can issue an infringement notice and a $300 fine if the rules have been breached, Ms Ferguson said.

"In the past we have preferred to get the problem resolved," she said.

"But we've now reached a point where the industry well understands its obligations and we think it's reasonable for people to be able to expect not to be disturbed during the night-time hours."


The Marlborough Express