1080 protests ramp up

by Andrew Ashton

Protest groups met in Hokitika over the weekend to finalise a strategy to try to halt a planned 1080 poison drop at Blue Spur.
Up to 20 demonstrators marched through downtown Hokitika on Saturday, before holding a summit meeting at the Beachfront Hotel to discuss further action.
Organiser Jackie Douglas, from the Fluoride Action Group, said anti-1080 groups intended to put together an action plan and protest strategy to make the Animal Health Board (AHB) accountable to the public.
She accused the AHB of intending to carry out an aerial drop over a 5147ha area of Blue Spur — from Lake Kaniere Road northwards — without notifying the public or the Westland District Council.
“They say the drop will take place in winter, so that could be any time from May 1.
“The medical officer of health has not been informed and neither has the Westland District Council,” Mrs Douglas said.
“Our concern is with protecting the water supply, and we don’t want to see the AHB flouting the rules.
Mrs Douglas said protest groups were also concerned that with the AHB targeting as much as 208,000ha of land on the West Coast with 1080, it raised concerns over their ability to protect water catchments from ridgeline-to-ridgeline, as stipulated by the Westland District Council.
“Bearing in mind that this in an election year, we want any government to make the AHB accountable to the public.”
Farmers Against 1080 spokeswoman Mary Molloy said the protest on Saturday was just the first in a range of “varied” forms of protests planned for the coming months.
“It is very important that we build further on the acts of last year and kick 1080 use out of the district, as agreed by the Westland District Council.”
It was “an insult” that, as a non-government organisation, the AHB could be completely unaccountable to anyone, she said.
She also expressed dismay that it was possible that the AHB only intended to notify the district council that they were conducting a drop two days before starting, and up to six weeks notice, “but probably less” for residents close to drop sites.