Strategy and Policy Committee Informal Workshop Pack
DATE: Thursday 3 September 2020
COMMENCING AT TIME: 11:00 am
VENUE: Council Chambers, Ground Floor, Regional House, 1 Elizabeth Street, Tauranga
Informal Workshop Papers
1 Regional Pest Management Plan 1
Informal Workshop Paper
Strategy and Policy Committee Workshop
3 September 2020
Lisa Power, Senior Planner and Sharlene Pardy, Team Leader Policy (Environmental)
Namouta Poutasi, General Manager, Strategy & Science
To discuss the Proposed Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) and the queries raised by Councillors in relation to submissions and staff recommendations.
2. Guidance Sought from Councillors
Guidance is sought from Councillors on staff responses to recent concerns raised by Councillors relating to:
· site-led and ‘good neighbour’ rules;
· kauri dieback;
· wild ginger and woolly nightshade; and
Amendments can then be made to the RPMP and staff recommendations to reflect this direction and then the plan will be reported to Council on 30 September 2020 for approval.
The Strategy and Policy Committee deferred agenda item 8.5 at its meeting on 11 August 2020 so Councillors could discuss concerns relating to the Regional Pest Management Plan and staff recommendations on submissions at a workshop.
Councillors have since raised their concerns with staff. This paper responds to the key concerns raised.
A verbal response will be provided at the Council workshop on the minor issues raised by Councillors, and any further issues that councillors may wish to raise at the workshop.
3.1 Site-led and Good Neighbour rules
Councillors queried whether site-led and ‘good neighbour’ rules could be included. Submissions were received in support of this. It was also noted that other councils (including our neighbour Waikato Regional Council) have these types of rules and therefore BOPRC should consider including them for consistency between regions.
Staff recommend that site-led or ‘good neighbour’ rules should not be included in the RPMP as per Council’s previous direction.
Council has considered whether to include site-led and ‘good neighbour’ rules several times during the development of this RPMP (including at the Regional Direction and Delivery Committee 30 November 2017, the Council meeting 6 September 2018, and most recently at the Council workshop on 13 November 2019). Staff maintain these types of rules are complex to develop in a way that will meet national policy direction requirements and be workable and enforceable.
A recent piece of research titled ‘New Generation Regional Pest Management Plans: A National Review of RPMP Development Processes & Lessons Learned’ (July 2020) has been developed to canvas council experiences in developing RPMPs. This research supports staff concerns regarding these types of rules, as set out below:
The survey highlighted that many respondents found Site-Led programmes among the most difficult to develop, despite having guidance under the NPD. Key challenges faced with the guidance and NPD requirements for Site-Led programmes included:
The guidance and NPD requirements for Site-Led programmes were confusing, lengthy, and onerous to work through. This resulted in different approaches across the country to developing Site-Led programmes, for example ‘protecting values of a site’ versus ‘site-based management’. Comment has been made that Site-Led programmes should not be a driver for site-based management, and should only be included in an RPMP where regulation is needed, and that these programmes should play more of a supporting role to complement other initiatives e.g. programmes in a biodiversity strategy.
It has also been raised that some respondents had difficulty in determining between whether a programme should be ‘Site-Led’ or ‘Progressive Containment’ - further guidance is needed.
There is concern that Site-Led programmes do not provide enough flexibility, as the level of detail required in an RPMP is quite high and therefore potentially too constraining should amendments to the programmes need to be made or additional sites added. On the flipside, other respondents have commented that having this programme under the NPD is an excellent addition and that they anticipate minor changes under the BSA to be easy and straightforward. It should be noted that Councils are yet to test this process.
Other challenges raised in this section of the survey included trying to determine whether sections 52 and 53 of the BSA applied to site-led pests outside of identified sites
Good Neighbour rules
It has been consistently raised that many respondents struggled with Good Neighbour Rules, and found the guidance given on the development of these to be confusing. Many respondents have commented that they would not include Good Neighbour Rules in their RPMPs in future, and query whether the rules could be legally enforced. Furthermore, there could be a public perception issue concerning crown agencies versus crown entities, as it is not overly clear to the public which of these are bound by Good Neighbour Rules.
Regarding consistency between Councils, a national template for Regional Pest Management Plans was developed by regional councils. This template meets all requirements of the Biosecurity Act, aligns with the national policy direction and ensures a consistent approach to pest management between regions. BOPRC’s RPMP has been developed using this template and peer reviewed by colleagues from adjoining councils. Waikato Regional Council is currently preparing a new Regional Pest Management Plan as their current plan does not follow the template and does not meet the requirements of the national policy direction.
Councillors queried why the RPMP does not contain a split programme of progressive containment/eradication for wallabies, similar to the approach taken for feral goats.
Wallabies could be a progressive containment pest for the core infestation area and an eradication pest outside that area. This reflects the management approach taken in practice.
If Council agrees with this revised approach (as shown in map below), staff will amend the RPMP and include it as a recommendation to Council on the 30th.
Councillors asked how the approach of excluding possums from the RPMP fits with Predator Free NZ’s vision of eradicating this pest by 2050.
Predator Free NZ is a non-statutory initiative based on community effort and its implementation sits outside the RPMP. Council provided an information paper on Predator Free NZ to a Long Term Plan Workshop in February 2018 along with options on how Council could be involved.
Cost benefit analyses from 2011 suggested including possums in the RPMP may be cost beneficial. The costs were estimated at $5,600,000 for the first year of management in the Bay of Plenty. This would not meet the Predator Free NZ goal of eradication (which is being trialled in the Korehaha Whakahau project at Ōhope).
3.4 Kauri Dieback
Councillors asked if we could have a note in the RPMP regarding how kauri dieback is managed if it’s not included as a pest in the RPMP.
When the RPMP was being developed, a National Pest Management Plan was being developed to manage kauri dieback. Despite this, at this stage no government funding has been committed for implementing this plan.
Council has a role to play in supporting lead agencies to manage national pests. This is supported by our strategic direction and kauri dieback is included in the RPMP as an advisory pest. Kauri dieback has been declared by government an ‘unwanted organism’ and is subject to the relevant provisions under the Biosecurity Act.
The majority of natural kauri in the Bay of Plenty is on Department of Conservation estate. Council staff currently do random soil testing for kauri dieback and engage with landowners who have kauri stands on their private property, encouraging them to fence off the Kauri from known vectors of spread.
The landscape for managing and funding kauri dieback has now changed. Northland Regional Council is now seeking support for a regionally led programme for kauri dieback. They have suggested meeting with government (MPI and DOC) post-election to progress the idea which would span at least the regions of Northland, Auckland and Waikato (and if appropriate, Bay of Plenty). It would be a high level plan on a page which would describe the collective need to scale up current operations. Staff seek Councillor’s direction on whether this type of approach would be appropriate for the Bay of Plenty.
3.5 Wild Ginger and Woolly Nightshade
Councillors queried whether both of these pests could be included as Progressive Containment pests across the region.
Staff recommend no change to the proposed pest management approach of progressive containment/sustained control for woolly nightshade and sustained control for wild ginger across the region.
Council considered the management of these pest plants at the 13 November 2019 Council workshop, the Regional Council Meeting on 6 September 2018 and at Regional Direction and Delivery Committee on 30 November, 2017.
Regarding wild ginger, both progressive containment and sustained control are cost beneficial. However there are significant cost implications: approximately $100,000 more per annum would be needed to fund a progressive containment approach.
For woolly nightshade, the cost benefit analysis results indicate that it is not a good use of public money. It would cost $800,000 per year to meet the progressive containment objectives and would require additional staff. Council currently spends $300,000 ($200,000 of this is new funding to support iwi/community efforts) and that will only meet progressive containment objectives in certain parts of the region.
Council still has the ability to require action under the proposed rules and support community initiatives as part of its strategic direction. It is recommended the Council trial the new rules for several years and then decide if further expenditure is justified.
Councillors queried why catfish was a progressive containment pest in the Kaituna and requested that it be reclassified as an exclusion pest.
Staff recommend no change to the treatment of catfish as a progressive containment pest in the Kaituna in the RPMP.
There is no physical barrier to stop the spread of catfish into the Kaituna River which means adopting an ‘exclusion’ status is considered unachievable.
3.7 Life of the Plan
There were some of Councillors’ requests that related to listing pests from national documents and referring to Council’s partnerships with various agencies. It is recommended that where possible a more generic statement is made in the plan to a national document, list or partnership instead. If those pests or partnerships change over the life of the plan, the plan would need updating to reflect this. This update would require a statutory process under the Biosecurity Act 1993 which is time consuming and costly.
4. Next Steps
Following the 3 September workshop, staff will make changes to the RPMP in accordance with the direction provided at the workshop. The RPMP will then be reported to the Council meeting on 30 September 2020 for final consideration and approval.