Sunday, June 28, 2009

"A very impressive piece of work," says consent hearing commissioner.

24 June 2009

Officials wanting to drop 1080 poison on a scenic reserve in Marlborough have been shown a hard-hitting documentary detailing its impact.

The documentary, Poisoning Paradise Ecocide in New Zealand, was shown during a resource consent hearing in Blenheim.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) wants to drop the poison on Isolated Hill Scenic Reserve as part of possum-control operations. The area crosses Marlborough and Canterbury and includes Sawcut Gorge, a popular day-walk.

Seven officials from DoC, the Animal Health Board, Landcare Research, the Marlborough District Council and Environment Canterbury watched the documentary. It was submitted in evidence by Marlborough resident Lloyd Hanson, who argued against the air drop.

"I haven't got `Doctor' in front of my name, but I still think I've got relevant points to make,'' he said. "They (DoC) are not acting in the best interests of the environment. They do not give a stuff.''

The documentary shows falcons and other birds dying, freshwater crayfish fighting over submerged 1080 pellets, deer and pigs rotting in creeks, eels eating dead animals in waterways, and dying stock.

DoC has previously criticised the work of film-makers Clyde and Steve Graf, pointing out a lack of scientific background. However, hearing commissioner Murray Hunt congratulated the Grafs, describing the film as "a very impressive piece of work."

DoC's legal representative at the hearing, Rachel Ennor, called it a "powerful'' film.
She initially tried to prevent it being shown at the hearing, but later said she wasn't concerned about it being shown. "I think it's important to assess the information within it to assess that information that relates to the question in front of us today is the key.''

Earlier, Ennor reminded the hearing the Environmental Risk Management Authority had sanctioned the continued use of 1080 in 2007 after an exhaustive inquiry.

Animal Health Board national disease control manager Kevin Crews described the film as thought-provoking. "There are a lot of things there that I have to go away and think about. I've taken note of a lot of references I'd like to go back and have a look at."

He continued, "I've noted things there about some of the hormonal effects. Again, it would be interesting to see the basis for all of that. Not saying that there is anything in it, but one needs to keep an open mind to some things and go and have a look at them.''

Hunt has 15 days to make a decision on the proposed Isolated Hill drop.

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