Editorial: The issue is balance

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014

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We can be an intolerant lot at times. Complain, complain, complain.

Just pick one of the following.

Paddock burnoffs. Milk tankers. Noise from the port. Roadworks. Unpleasant smells.

You'll have your own.

Yet equally we could complain if these things were absent, because they represent industry and jobs and a vibrant economy.

It's all to do with striking the right balance, not over-stepping the line.

But one line that's being stretched just now is the amount of dirt farmers are dragging on to district roads. Dirt and, in some cases, animal poo.

Certainly enough of both for the matter to be raised at yesterday's Waimate District Council meeting, and enough for Federated Farmers to be liaising with district councils and police on it.

That's encouraging. At least there's recognition there is a problem, and that something is being done about it.

And while it is just dirt and dung, it is a problem. It muddies cars, makes roads more dangerous and can damage roads and adjacent waterways.

More difficult is exactly what to do about it.

You can't cancel winter. And this year apparently the problem is particularly bad, which is a little odd, because Niwa has just said June was the warmest on record.

But it could be a combination of factors. Early winter rain coupled with changes in land use, which could be translated as more dairy farms. In which case it is even more important to set boundaries now.

But there shouldn't be an expectation of a spotless road. These are country thoroughfares, and the country is full of dirt. Some of it is going to end up in the wrong place.

And farmers pay rates and taxes, so are entitled to use the roads as much if not more than urban motorists.

The issue is the balance, and if 20 areas in Waimate are affected by extreme dumps of mud now, the balance isn't right.

A discussion then to find ways to lessen the problem, and then something tougher. And that could mean prosecutions, particularly for those who give everyone else a bad name.

This isn't something you can hide easily.

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- The Timaru Herald

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