Smith defends 1080 approach

NICK SMITH: Environment Minister.
NICK SMITH: Environment Minister.

Environment Southland has copped flak for failing to consult with the public before allowing the Department of Conservation to dump 1080 poison in the Waikaia forest, Northern Southland.

Environment Southland has granted DOC non-notified consents so it can spread 1080 poison in the Waikaia forest in Northern Southland and in parts of the Fiordland National Park.

Anti 1080 Party founder Bill Wallace argued the consents should be notified so the Southland community had the chance to express their views before a decision was made.

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 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."

The consent was not notified because DOC had already consulted with all relevant affected parties, Environment Southland said.