September Stewart Island News update

We’ve fielded a number of questions on the practicalities of how an eradication would work. The details of these are being worked through in the detailed feasibility study that is currently being undertaken. However we thought it would be useful to provide some information on the legal aspects of an eradication.

Regulatory Processes and Issues for Predator Free Rakiura

The Biosecurity Act can provide powers to undertake pest control on Rakiura and to prevent the introduction of unwanted predator species. At the local level these powers are accessed through a regional pest management strategy.

Currently there are a number of rules in Southland’s Regional Pest Management Strategy that support the Predator Free Rakiura concept.  For example it is illegal to introduce any mustelid (stoat, ferret, weasel) to Stewart Island. The same rule applies to feral cats, feral pigs, hedgehogs, magpies, rabbits and rats and mice. There is also a rule which requires all domestic cats in Stewart Island to be neutered and micro-chipped. This rule is yet to be enforced but its implementation would involve full consultation with the local community beforehand.

The Biosecurity Act could also be used to manage the internal border between Stewart Island and the South Island. Under the current Regional Pest Management Strategy existing powers could be used to monitor the border and to prevent the passage of designated pests.

However a better option in future may be the use of a Pathways Plan to manage the border. This method was made possible by amendments to the Biosecurity Act in 2012. A Pathways Plan could enable the setting up of policies and programmes specifically aimed at protecting the integrity of Predator Free Rakiura. This would be done by focussing on the means or ‘pathways’ by which predator species could cross Fouveaux Strait, e.g.  shipping, aircraft, freight, passengers, etc. It could in effect be used to set up a local border control system. However this can only be done through an extensive consultation process with all affected parties and with the full cooperation of those who are responsible for or operate in the defined ‘pathways’.

What Consents will be required under the Resource Management Act 1991 and Building Act 2004?

 

Depending on the nature of any work proposed, this may require resource consents from the Southland District Council and/ or Environment Southland under the Resource Management Act 1991; such as for indigenous vegetation modifications for the proposed fence and any associated works which may be required to cross watercourses with this structure, or to run the fence down to the coastline.

 

Whether such consents are required will become clearer if the proposal proceeds further to a more detailed design stage, and this design would then be assessed against the relevant provisions of the Southland District Council District Plan, and Environment Southland’s Regional Water Plan and Regional Coastal Plan to determine if resource consents are required.

 

If resource consents are required under these planning documents, then the relevant consent authority (be it SDC or ES) would also need to decide the extent of public consultation required in relation to this i.e. whether full public notification is appropriate/ necessary, in which case anyone can submit, or whether the consent authority is satisfied that the effects are localised and minor to the extent that the application can be dealt with on a non-notified basis if written approvals of affected parties are obtained.

 

The Building Act 2004 provides an exemption from the need for building consent for fences as follows:

 

Fences and hoardings

·         (1) Building work in connection with a fence or hoarding in each case not exceeding 2.5 metres in height above the supporting ground.

 

Regardless of whether the fence required a building consent from the Southland District Council or not, it would still be important to seek appropriate engineering design input to ensure the robustness of the structure long-term.