20 Feb 2012

Anti-pollution campaigners want national river patrols

10:08 am on 20 February 2012

Two men running separate campaigns to stop cattle polluting rivers want a national network of river patrols.

Millan Ruka of Whangarei and Wellington businessman Grant Muir, who has land on the Pahaoa River in Wairarapa, want it made mandatory to fence off waterways from stock.

Mr Ruka has been patrolling polluted rivers near Whangarei and sending videos and reports of cattle in the water to the Northland Regional Council.

Mr Muir patrols the Pahaoa River with his four huntaways to chase cattle out of the stream.

Both men say their regional councils claim they have no power to act over the pollution.

They want to set up a body to link river patrols around the country, and lobby for a law change.

Grant Muir says he may call a public meeting in Wellington to see what sort of support there would be for such a body - to be named Environmental River Patrol Aotearoa.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Defence Society says it may go to the Environment Court to test the claim by many regional councils that they do not have the power to compel farmers to keep stock out of rivers.

EDS chairman Gary Taylor says the society believes the councils have always had that power under the Resource Management Act but have chosen not to use it.

He says the society has legal opinions supporting that view and will consider this week whether to ask the Environment Court for a declaratory statement on the issue.

Mr Taylor says if it does go to court, the society will use Millan Ruka's pollution reports and Northland Regional Council's response in evidence.