National regulations proposed for pest control

  • Nick Smith

Regulations are being proposed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to provide for a nationally consistent approach to pest control, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in releasing a consultation paper standardising the regulatory regime for pest control at the New Zealand PIanning Institute conference.

“These proposed RMA regulations are a response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report recommending that I instigate a more standardised approach to pest control. Rather than each regional council having different pest control rules, the standard controls set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) would apply. The current regulatory approach is unnecessarily complex and confusing and these proposals will result in better regulation and at less cost. These regulatory changes are part of the Government’s broader RMA reform programme to standardise environment rules across New Zealand,” Dr Smith says.

The proposals apply to vertebrate toxic agents (VTAs) that have been  assessed and approved by the EPA under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act or are controlled under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act and covers 1080, brodifacoum and rotenone under specific conditions and circumstances.

“Control of pests like rats, stoats and possums is essential if we are to save iconic species like kiwi. These pests kill twenty-five million native birds each year. Pest control is also crucial to eliminating diseases like bovine Tb that pose risks to our key exporting industries. These new regulations will enable more effective control of these pests with poisons like 1080 by applying nationally consistent rules. There is no environmental justification for having different controls on these pest control tools in different regions.

“The proposed regulations do not change the requirement for local public notification of pest control operations but these requirements are to be standardised. It will prevent the ridiculous situation in which notification of a pest control operation has to be provided multiple times to meet different council and national requirements.

“Landowners permission for pest control operations will still be required and the role of the medical officers of health is also unchanged. Every year since 2008, the EPA produces an annual report on aerial 1080 pest control operations. These reports have shown improved compliance with regulations and that water quality has been unaffected. These reports will continue under the new regime. 

The consultation paper is open for submissions to the Ministry for the Environment until 5pm Thursday, 26 May.

“These changes will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of pest control in New Zealand, helping to save our iconic birds and protect key industries.”