A document outlining staff responses to written submissions on the Proposal for a Southland Regional Pest Management Plan has been provided to the hearing panel and released publicly.
Environment Southland’s director of operations Jonathan Streat said there were over 100 written submissions and 27 submitters also took the opportunity to address the hearing panel in person during two hearing days in February. The proposal outlines how Environment Southland will oversee the management of biosecurity over the next 10 years.
“It was great to see so many people giving their thoughts on the proposal, this is an essential part of putting together the best plan we can. The document released today is just one more part of the information needed by the hearing panel in order to assist them to make decisions.”
Jonathan said the proposal currently includes 72 specific pests, along with good neighbour rules for species such as gorse, broom, ragwort and nodding thistle, and proposes two site-led programmes. The proposed site-led programmes, at Omaui and Stewart Island/Rakiura allow for rules specific to these areas to be introduced.
“The site-led programmes are a useful tool to help manage the impacts of feral cats and support efforts already being undertaken at these locations to improve native biodiversity.”
In the staff response document, it is recommended that the sunset clause on cats included as part of the proposal for a site-led programme at Omaui is removed, but microchipping and desexing rules still remain. If accepted by the hearing panel, this recommendation allows Omaui residents to continue owning cats, provided they are microchipped, desexed and kept in accordance with Invercargill City Council bylaws.
“Our staff have considered all of the submissions and believe the site-led programme at Omaui can still be successful at protecting biodiversity and building on current pest control measures, while allowing residents to continue owning domestic cats and demonstrating responsible pet ownership. Staff are also recommending that further investigation work is done on containment and curfew options,” Jonathan said.
“This is still only a staff recommendation and the hearing panel will consider it along with all submissions, before providing their recommendation on the final plan to Council.”
The hearing will be reconvened on Wednesday 20 March, which provides an opportunity for the staff to present their submission to the panel and answer any questions that have arisen as a result of it.
The hearing panel includes Councillors Lyndal Ludlow, Grant Hubber and Robert Guyton, along with Muriel Johnstone, who brings specialist iwi and tikanga knowledge to the panel. The panel is chaired by independent chairman John Simmons.
Once the hearing panel has all the information they require, they will consider all submissions and recommend a final version of the plan to council for approval. This is not expected to happen before May 2019.
All documents relating to the Proposal for a Southland Regional Pest Management Plan, including the staff response to submissions, are available at https://www.haveyoursay.es.govt.nz/pest-plan