Meeting of the Biosecurity Working Party
Date: 17 August 2022
Hawke's Bay Regional Council
159 Dalton Street
Item Title Page
1. Welcome/Karakia /Apologies
2. Conflict of Interest Declarations
3. Confirmation of Minutes of the Biosecurity Working Party meeting held on 16 June 2022
4. Submissions received and staff responses to the proposed change to the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Plan 3
5. Hearing process for the proposed changes to the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Plan 9
Biosecurity Working Party
17 August 2022
Subject: Submissions received and staff responses to the proposed change to the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Plan
Reason for report
1. This agenda item has been prepared to assist the Biosecurity Working Party (BWP) in considering the submissions received and making decisions on the proposal for a partial change to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP).
2. The proposed change to the RPMP to alter the way the Possum Control Area Programme (PCA Programme) is delivered was publicly notified for feedback on 1 July 2022 for a period of four weeks, closing 31 July 2022.
3. Consultation occurred through a mixed media strategy, with letters sent out to land occupiers within the PCA programme, extensive social media advertising, a promotional video discussing the proposed changes and external stakeholder meetings and presentations.
4. A total of 150 submissions were received addressing a range of matters. Staff were appreciative of the largely positive and constructive comments on the proposed changes.
5. The key themes raised in the submissions included:
5.1. Concerns regarding the effectiveness of the current model for possum control
5.2. Biodiversity benefits from possum control
5.3. Concern that neighbouring land occupiers are not undertaking possum control
5.4. Land tenure neutral approach
5.5. Achieving greater consistency in possum control
5.6. The need to focus on other pests and not just on possums
5.7. Contractor uncertainty, and
5.8. Concerns relating to how the programme will be funded.
6. Staff consider that the changes proposed to the PCA will do more to protect and restore native biodiversity. In doing so, this proposal will support achieving Council’s 2020 Strategic Plan. One of that plan’s four strategic goals is “healthy, functioning and climate-resilient biodiversity.” To achieve this Council will need to scale-up biodiversity protection by using new technologies and techniques, including pest control operations.
7. There is clear evidence from research over the last 20 years that possum control provides significant biodiversity benefits. One report, “A review of biodiversity outcomes from possum-focused pest control in New Zealand” is a meta-analysis of 47 research projects and one of the largest studies of quantitative data to date on the biodiversity benefits of possum control.
8. The report found:
8.1. 85% of studies reported a positive response of vegetation after possum control
8.2. 80% of the relevant studies showed that native birds did better and were more abundant after possum control.
9. Possum control also helps restore native bird life in our cities and towns. Following possum control which began in Napier in 2008, bellbird numbers doubled after one year. After five years, bellbird numbers trebled, and tui quadrupled. Napier also saw the first evidence of kereru breeding in 30 years.
10. A shift to using professional contractors will ensure that possum control in the Hawke’s Bay is of a reliably high standard, with positive flow-on benefits for biodiversity around the region.
11. Council managed possum contracting is also a potential foundation to the region’s efforts to become predator free. Possums are the most likely of the Predator Free 2050 species to be the target of eradication across the New Zealand mainland. The use of professional contractors, the latest pest control tools and techniques and the ability to record a detailed range of information related to pest management programmes all create a greater opportunity to progress from possum suppression to possum eradication across the region.
Summary of consultation
12. On 1 July 2022 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council released a Proposal on the future of possum control in Hawke’s Bay. The purpose of the proposal was to seek feedback on the proposed change from occupier responsibility to a HBRC managed contract delivery model instead.
13. To encourage public input, several mechanisms for submitting feedback we provided, including via phone, email, letter, hard copy submission form or online submission form. A total of 150 submissions were received with the majority received by the online submission form. The release of the Proposal was advertised via the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council website and Facebook page, a YouTube video, an article in “The Bay Buzz”, and 4,500 letters sent to stakeholders. An email was also sent to key stakeholders, including the Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, OSPRI, TB Free Committee, Forestry sector, Ministry for Primary Industries, Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council contractors.
14. We also consulted with neighbouring councils in relation to the process for the regional pest management plan review. Key topics discussed were:
14.1. Current Possum Control Programme
14.2. Funding for changing delivery model
14.3. Engagement with stakeholders
14.4. Tender guidelines.
15. As well, staff held meetings with key industry and interest groups such as Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, OSPRI, Beef and Lamb and Pest Control Contractors were held.
16. A BWP, consisting of five councillors and 2 representatives of the Māori Committee was formed. The purpose of the BWP was to provide recommendations to staff on the development of the Proposed changes to the RPMP and advice on how to best to consult with Māori.
17. When the BWP was formed, there was the intent to provide an update to the Māori Committee. At the advice of the Māori Partnerships group, the agenda item was not able to be tabled at the Māori Committee due to no space being available on the agenda. As a result, the BWP has relied on the guidance of the Māori committee members that sit on the BWP.
18. The online submission form asked:
18.1. Do you support moving to a contractor delivery model for possum control?
18.2. Please give your reasons and/or any other feedback.
19. Of the 153 submissions (including 3 late submission) received, 100 supported the proposed changes, 37 were opposed to the proposed changes and the remainder were unsure. Fourteen of the submitters indicated they wish to speak to their submission.
20. In addition, 3 submissions were received after the 8:00pm 31 July 2022 submissions deadline and staff recommend that these are accepted for consideration along with the 150 within the submissions period. The late submissions were from:
20.1. Troy Duncan (submission 152)
20.2. Anyika Scotland (submission 153)
20.3. Charlotte Pedersen (submission 154).
21. The deadline for submissions was stated in the proposal, consultation material and on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s website.
22. In accordance with the Biosecurity Act, where submissions are received after the closing date, the Council must waive that lateness for the submissions to be legitimised. HBRC staff do not have delegated powers to waive late submissions, this sits with the BWP.
23. Staff have reviewed these late submissions and note that no new themes are raised by those. For this reason, staff are recommending that the BWP waives the deadline and accepts the late submissions.
24. All of the submission received are attached under separate cover.
25. There was overall general support for:
25.1. Using professional contractors in managing possums
25.2. Regional biodiversity benefits
25.3. Land tenure neutral approach
25.4. Achieving greater consistency in possum control, and
25.5. Awareness of the current model not providing consistent results.
26. Many submitters commented that they were supportive of transitioning possum control from occupier responsibility to contractor delivered. Submitters commented on operational and implementation activities, including the way the rules are enforced, the method of undertaking pest control (for example, the use of poisons) and the distribution of costs.
27. Some of the key issues/concerns raised were:
27.1. Needing more information pertaining to specific costs per property and industry
27.2. Hesitation about contractors entering their property and/or use of toxins
27.3. Focusing on other pests as a priority and not just on possums.
Staff responses to submission themes
Approve the use of contractors for consistency
28. The current land occupier responsibility model for possum control is harder to manage than using contractors. There are many more occupiers potentially doing control on their own properties than the number of contractors it would take to control possums effectively at a landscape scale. One 3,000 hectare PCA in Hawke’s Bay has 133 properties, while the average per PCA is about 50 properties. To ensure that control is done in the right way at the right time, large numbers of small properties introduce considerable uncertainty into the system. There are about 4,300 properties in the current PCA programme. Monitoring the performance of each property is a daunting prospect if each does their own possum control. Three to five contractors could cover 400,000 hectares. For most landowners, possum control is just one of many jobs to be done, and even with the very best of intentions, some owners will do possum control irregularly or not at all. Contractors will be more singularly focused on meeting their performance measures and targets within their allocated project areas. This does not reflect badly on farmers. It simply acknowledges the reality for anyone whose primary business is not possum control.
29. The proposal is to transition the current PCA programme from land occupier responsibility to the use of approved possum control contractors. The transition to the contractor-based model will not only ensure consistency for possum control outcomes but also ensure positive outcomes for biodiversity which benefits the region mutually.
30. Another reoccurring theme that submissions touched on was taking a land tenure neutral approach, specifying that urban, lifestyle, farmland, forestry, Iwi, Council and DOC land should be included in the programme. The proposed contractor model intends on including all land within the PCA programme, including forestry and DOC land. Although only a 500m buffer can be applied to Crown Land under the Biosecurity Act, HBRC has an agreement with DOC to undertake control of possums on DOC estate within the PCA programme.
31. It is noted that some of the feedback we received raised concerns regarding controlling other pests such as cats, rabbits, deer, goats. The RPMP has a number of other pest programmes that provides support to landowners in managing these pests. Although there may be opportunities for these pests to be under region wide control at some point in the future these issues fall outside of the scope of the RPMP review which focuses on the PCA programme.
Hesitation on using contractors
32. All landowners will be contacted by a contractor before any possum control work is undertaken on their property. Landowners will have an opportunity to talk to a pest control expert about any concerns they may have regarding health and safety, methods of control, land access around certain times of the year, and any additional concerns or comments. Following this, a land access agreement between the landowner and contractor will be produced which captures these agreed preferences that will guide how the contractor will undertake the work.
33. Concerns were also raised regarding health and safety of people coming onto the property to do work. Some land occupiers (especially functioning businesses) consider that health and safety of all people coming onto the property is the land occupier’s responsibility and don’t want to be liable for any mishaps that can occur at their place of business. These health and safety concerns can be addressed when the contractor is working with the land occupier to write up the land access agreement including the health and safety plan. Through this process the land occupier can make the contractor aware of any hazards, health and safety concerns or the requirement of a site induction before work is undertaken, in accordance with any obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. While this action would not discharge the ongoing obligations of the land occupier (e.g. to advise the contractor of any new hazards or changes in circumstances), it will be the contractor’s responsibility to act in accordance with the health and safety plan.
The status quo is working
34. Some submitters commented that they are undertaking adequate possum control and the proposed transition to contractors was unnecessary. Some also noted they had not seen any possums for years and didn’t believe there was an issue. However, Council analysis shows that nearly 70% of current PCA properties do not use a contractor of which approximately 50% are likely doing little to no control. Additionally, if best practice trapping and baiting techniques are not being employed this may cause possums to become bait or trap-shy which can make removing these individuals costly in the long term. A shift to using professional contractors will ensure that possum control in the Hawke’s Bay is of a reliably high standard, with wider positive flow-on benefits for biodiversity around the region.
35. One of the main themes that spanned across many submissions, both in support and against transitioning to a contractor delivered model, was a concern around cost. There were multiple submissions stating they do not want a rates increase or had an expectation that the proposed changes would be cost neutral. It was stated that the land occupier responsibility model was implemented to ensure possum control was undertaken but without loading unnecessary costs on land occupiers. Further submissions touched on the fact that they were undertaking adequate possum control themselves and felt that this Proposal would subsidise those not undertaking control. There was concern around the additional financial implications to farmers whilst also dealing with Farm Environment Management Plan requirements and Council needs to look at ways to reduce costs. There was a submission that felt the cost analysis included in the Proposal did not provide enough context for how this cost will be fairly apportioned across ratepayers alongside submissions that that felt the positive benefits of possum control apply to everyone in our community.
36. It must be noted that Council increased the possum monitoring programme this financial year from 114,534 ha to 308,000 ha in an attempt to identify those land occupiers not undertaking control prior to transitioning to a contractor delivered model. Any property that fails this monitoring will be required to undertake control to reduce possums to low levels at their expense.
37. The existing funding split for this programme is 70% targeted rate, 30% general rate. Given the primary driver of this programme is biodiversity, it is proposed that the funding split is substantially changed to account for this. Staff are of the view that the programme be primarily funded by a general rate with a smaller percentage of targeted rate to reflect the greater proportion of biodiversity benefits than production benefits. No Council decisions on new PCA budgets or any revised allocation of costs have been made. These issues will be considered and discussed with the community as part of the 2024 Long Term Plan (LTP). The changes envisaged in this proposal are enabling but would not be enacted until the 2024-2034 LTP and after the Revenue and Financing Policy has been reviewed. Until any changes to the PCA programme are implemented, revenue sources and the allocation of costs will remain unchanged from the current RPMP.
38. Throughout the submissions it was positive to note the overwhelming support for the enhancement and protection of our natural assets. A number of submissions also touched on the positive biodiversity benefits that could be achieved through coordinated possum control. Staff note that this Proposal would support achieving Council’s 2020 Strategic Plan goals. One of that plan’s four strategic goals is “healthy, functioning and climate-resilient biodiversity.” Implementation includes scaling-up biodiversity protection by using new technologies and techniques, including pest control operations. As stated earlier in this report, there has been substantial research undertaken in New Zealand that shows the significant biodiversity gains that are achieved from possum management.
Decision making process
39. Council and its committees are required to make every decision in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act). Staff have assessed the requirements in relation to this item and have concluded:
39.1. The decision to receive and consider submissions does not significantly alter a service provision or affect a strategic asset, nor is it inconsistent with an existing policy or plan.
39.2. The persons affected by this decision are those who made submissions to the proposal.
1. That the Biosecurity Working Party receives and considers the written submissions received on the Proposed Possum Control Area Partial Regional Pest Management Plan Review.
2. That the Biosecurity Working Party waives the submissions closing deadline of 31 July 2022 to allow inclusion of the three submissions received after that date from:
2.1. Troy Duncan (submission 152)
2.2. Anyika Scotland (submission 153)
2.3. Charlotte Pedersen (submission 154).
3. That the Biosecurity Working Party receives and notes the staff responses to the submission themes.
Project Manager - Biosecurity Review
Team Leader Principal Advisor Biosecurity Biodiversity
Group Manager Integrated Catchment Management
Submissions received on Possum Control delivery change
Under Separate Cover
Biosecurity Working Party
17 August 2022
Subject: Hearing process for the proposed changes to the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Plan
Reason for Report
1. This item provides the Biosecurity Working Party (BWP) with information on the hearing for the consultation on the proposed changes to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP).
2. The current schedule for 17 August 2022 hearing is attached. Any changes to this will be notified to the BWP on or before 17 August 2022.
3. The consultation period was 1 – 31 July 2022. A total of 150 submissions were received, of which 14 submitters have indicated they wish to be heard.
4. A complete set of submissions is attached to the Hearing Agenda under separate cover. Those who want to speak to their submission at the hearing are identified.
5. The hearing is scheduled on the 17 August 2022 from 10.00am to 16.00pm. The hearing will be held in the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Chambers at 159 Dalton Street, Napier.
6. Each speaker has been allocated 10 minutes which includes time for questions from the BWP. The time limit will need to be strictly adhered to, to enable the large number of submitters who want to be heard to get an equal opportunity to speak.
7. A preliminary schedule of speakers is attached, and a finalised version will be provided to the BWP on the morning of the hearing.
8. After the conclusion of the hearing, staff will finalise the Deliberation Report for the BWP to consider at the meeting scheduled for 6 September 2022.
9. The BWP will then make its recommendations to Council on the final draft of the proposed changes to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Pest Management Plan, along with a report outlining proposed decisions, which will be tabled for the Council to make a final decision upon in accordance with section 75 of the Biosecurity Act 1993 (BSA).
10. Once Council decision has been made, public notice will be given of the decision, along with the full decision report including confirmed changes to the RPMP. Submitters will have 15 working days to lodge an appeal with the Environment Court in accordance with section 76 of the BSA, if they wish to do so
Decision Making Process
11. Council and its committees are required to make every decision in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act). Staff have assessed the requirements in relation to this item and have concluded:
12. Council is required to make every decision in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act). Staff have assessed the requirements in relation to this item and have concluded:
12.1. The decision does not significantly alter the service provision or affect a strategic asset.
12.2. The use of the special consultative procedure is not prescribed by legislation.
12.3. The decision does not fall within the definition of Council’s policy on significance.
12.4. The persons affected by this decision are all persons who have submitted on the Proposed Regional Pest Management Plan.
12.5. The decision is not inconsistent with an existing policy or plan.
12.6. Given the nature and significance of the issue to be considered and decided, and also the persons likely to be affected by, or have an interest in the decisions made, Council can exercise its discretion and make a decision without consulting directly with the community or others having an interest in the decision.
That the Biosecurity Working Party receives and considers the verbal submissions on the proposed changes to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Pest Management Plan.
Project Manager - Biosecurity Review
Team Leader Principal Advisor Biosecurity Biodiversity
Group Manager Integrated Catchment Management
draft 17 August 2022 Submissions Hearing schedule