Campaigner: Public snubbed over 1080
Environment Southland has copped flak for failing to consult with the public before allowing the Department of Conservation to dump the "sadistically cruel" 1080 toxin in parts of the region.
Outraged Anti 1080 Party founder Bill Wallace said Environment Southland had granted DOC non-notified consents so it could spread 1080 poison in Southland.
In the past week, the West Coast Regional Council also granted two non-notified resource consents to spread 1080, claiming the effects were minor and there were no circumstances that would warrant public notification, Wallace said.
He argued the consents should be notified so the Southland and West Coast communities had the chance to express their views before a decision was made. Many were affected by 1080 drops, Wallace said, including recreational hunters and fishermen and fishing, hunting and rafting guides.
"All their incomes are affected by people's perceptions of the dumping of poison. How can the council in Southland say that no-one has the right to be heard?"
The non-notified consents were "contrary to the purpose of the Resource Management Act and it is appalling that [Conservation Minister] Nick Smith and the National Government allow the Department of Conservation to misuse the RMA [Resource Management Act] in this way", he said.
Smith said it was a "nonsense" the Government was not complying with the act.
"If he really believes that, he should test it before the courts."
He said regional councils had the choice of consulting the public before granting DOC consent to spread 1080 on forests in their regions in coming months.
The reason many councils chose not to consult was that they already had rules established for the use of 1080 and the time delays and potential appeals would make the operations ineffective, he said.
"If a consent is notified, it's likely to take at least four months to process and, if appealed, it could take two to three years . . . by which time the rats and stoats would have left a wasteland of our native birds."
Environment Southland confirmed it had granted DOC consent to use 1080 to target possums and rats in the Waikaia Forest and parts of Fiordland National Park.
"This has been granted as under the Regional Water Plan for Southland, this activity is a controlled activity. This means that the application must be granted by council, although conditions can and have been imposed."
The consent was not notified because DOC had already consulted with all relevant affected parties, Environment Southland said.
The Government announced this week it would use 1080 poison in a massive pest-control programme across New Zealand in an effort to protect kiwi and native wildlife from a "biblical" plague of rats and stoats.
Operations would start on 700,000 hectares in 29 forests around New Zealand between this month and November.
A further 14 forests covering 200,000ha were on "close watch".
The Southland Times