We are currently challenging regulations that allow poisons like brodifacoum and 1080 to be aerially dropped in Nelson and throughout New Zealand without public consultation.
The Brook Valley Community Group Incorporated tried to stop the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust (BWST) - chaired by David Butler and managed by Hudson Dodds- from carrying out a series of three drops totalling 26.5 tonnes of brodifacoum poison bait on 700 hectares of fenced land leased from the Nelson City Council. The public has been systematically denied any opportunity to have a say in whether this poisoning should have been allowed.
Brodifacoum is a bio-accumulative eco-poison. The safety data sheet for Pestoff 20R (Brodifacoum) says: “Danger. Deadly Poison. Keep out of reach of children. Ecotoxic”. That is the least of it. More information on brodifacoum, an exceedingly dangerous substance, is available on the links section of this website.
There were three drops over a period of six weeks. BWST did not give the promised 48 hours’ notice to affected parties, or advise the neighbourhood a drop was taking place. They also failed to have a resource consent to discharge poison on a public reserve site. The drops were undertaken by Marlborough Helicopters in the headwaters of the Brook Valley immediately next to the Brook Camping Ground.
This poisonous programme was planned with, condoned by and partly funded by Nelson City Council. It was signed off as having a ‘less than minor effect” on the environment, and therefore not needing public notification, by Alex Louverdis, Senior Manager, Infrastructure. This followed from an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) prepared by a company (Wildlands Consultants) having exactly the same three owners as the company contracting to build this and other multi-million dollar predator fences. We believe these are conflicts of interest.
Facilitating the poisoning and lack of enforcement of community and environmental protections were the Environmental Investigations Limited (EIL); (which organisation is contracted to the Council); the then Minister for the Environment, and still local Nelson MP Nick Smith, who granted a scandalous exemption from the consultation requirement of the RMA; MPI officials who gave the poisoners an exemption from Operating Code 63; and the Police who blocked access to public reserve land, and then trespassed and arrested witnesses- apparently unlawfully.
The Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries, Worksafe and other poison enforcement authorities were conspicuously absent at the first two drops. Many apparent breaches of health and safety laws were identified. There were false arrests; breaches of N.Z. Bill of Rights Act; nuisance and criminal nuisance; waste of public funds and apparent attempts to pervert the course of justice by preventing the collection of evidence of criminal offending.
Our main goal is to enable the public to have a say on any decision about aerial poisoning. Otherwise, poisoners can aerially drop brodifacoum or 1080 pretty much anywhere in New Zealand, with impunity, as they have done and continue to do.
In preliminary rulings the Court of Appeal has accepted that we have an arguable and public interest case against the BWST, the (then) Minister for the Environment, and the Nelson City Council. We are finalising preparations and awaiting a date for an Appeal hearing. This will consider the legality of the Resource Management Exemption Regulations 2017, which exempt aerial discharges of 1080 and brodifacoum poison bait from the usual protections and public consultation requirements of the RMA.
We also seek clarification of the application of s13(1)(d) of the RMA to aerially dropped poison. S13(1)(d) prohibits the discharge of any substance to the bed of any river without permission from the regional plan or a resource consent. This section is potentially very important as current aerial poisoners typically intentionally discharge aerial poison over the entire “treatment area” including riverbeds and streams.
The Brook Valley Community Group Incorporated is a properly constituted body having a mandate to raise matters of public interest. Our role in doing so has been explicitly recognised by the judiciary, both in agreeing to waive a number of court fees and in preliminary statements from the Court of Appeal. We think it crucial to continue with our case to the Court of Appeal to try to overturn the Exemption Regulations, so that all communities have a voice in how their local environment is managed and what protections are needed.
The fight against these Resource Management Act changes is for the greater good of all communities around New Zealand, most especially those trying to have a say on whether 1080 and other poisons such as brodifacoum are to be dropped around them