RNZ: Industry body calls for consistency over agricultural spraying rules

(Originally published by RNZ on March 26, 2024.)

Unworkable and inconsistent regulations are making agricultural spraying near-impossible in some areas, says the New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA).

A number of regional and district councils around the country are reviewing their long-term plans and proposing some changes which affect those who use planes and helicopters to spread fertiliser.

The NZAAA has been raising concerns over some of the proposed changes in different regions across the motu.

Chairman Bruce Peterson said some helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft pilots fly up to 100 times a day but some councils have proposed limiting them to only two flights a day.

One council proposed no commercial flights without a resource consent.

“Industry is being challenged with councils’ and district plans that all have to be reviewed,” Peterson said.

“Most of them [the controls] are around noise and drift and hours of work, etc. so they’re all different.

“It’s very difficult when an operator might go across three or four different plans and different rules and you can do one thing in one and one in the next.”

He said the association had disputed a number of regional or district plans restricting the use of agricultural aviation services – and had more on the list for mediation.

Peterson wanted standardisation across different regions, and said much of local government did not see how vital the agricultural aviation service was to the economy and supporting New Zealand communities.

He said agricultural aviation also had a long and proud history in helping respond to emergencies like natural disasters, including – most recently – Christchurch’s Port Hills fires.

But he said regulation around flights had even hampered those efforts in the past.

“Technically, under one plan, which I won’t say which, we wouldn’t be allowed to go and put the fire out and they’re one of the biggest forestry owners of the district.

“There needs to be some consistency across that and a bit of common sense come in to it.”

 

Reproduced with permission from Monique Steele.