Farmer Flo from Tikorangi prides herself on keeping her farm clear of weeds.
Lately, it has become harder and harder for her to keep control of ragwort and nodding thistles due to the careless attitude her neighbour, Laidback Larry, takes to weed control. Farmer Flo has become increasingly frustrated with Laidback Larry and has asked him several times to do something about his weeds. Laidback Larry doesn't think he has any obligations to keep his weeds under control and maintains that he is entitled to farm however he likes. Farmer Flo thinks there is some legislation that deals with noxious weeds, but can't remember what it says.
The provisions of the Noxious Plants Act 1978 were replaced by the Biosecurity Act 1993. The Taranaki Regional Council is the pest management agency for Taranaki under the Biosecurity Act and approved a regional pest management strategy titled Pest Management Strategy for Taranaki: Plants which came into effect on 1 March 2007 (available from the Taranaki Regional Council website at www.trc.govt.nz).
The strategy is for 10 years, but will be reviewed after five years. Under the Strategy, the Regional Council and each land occupier (or land owner where there is no occupier) have responsibilities for eradicating or containing pest plants. There are 27 different plants that are listed as pest plants. Ragwort and nodding thistles are listed as "containment" pest plants and under the rules in the strategy and land occupiers are required to destroy all adult and juvenile forms of those plants.
The Regional Council has powers under the Biosecurity Act to inspect properties. The Regional Council has an inspection and monitoring programme to ensure occupiers comply with the rules in the strategy for controlling pest plants. Properties are classed as either category A, B or C depending on the level of the problem with pest plants on the property. The Regional Council also undertakes inspections in response to complaints about pest plants from the public and, if Farmer Flo made a complaint, would undertake an inspection.
If the Regional Council finds that Laidback Larry's farm breaches the rules in the Strategy, it can issue a Notice of Direction directing Laidback Larry to control the pest plants on his land (274 such these notices were issued last year). If Laidback Larry does not comply with the Notice of Direction, the Regional Council is able to undertake work to control the pest plants itself and recover the costs of doing this from Laidback Larry. The breach of a rule in the Strategy is also an offence under the Biosecurity Act and Laidback Larry could be fined up to $5,000.If the Regional Council finds that Laidback Larry's farm breaches the rules in the strategy, it can issue a Notice of Direction directing Laidback Larry to control the pest plants on his land (274 such these notices were issued last year). If Laidback Larry does not comply with the Notice of Direction, the Regional Council is able to undertake work to control the pest plants itself and recover the costs of doing this from Laidback Larry.
Laidback Larry may also be in breach of his obligations to his bank under his mortgage to keep his farm clear of weeds.
The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.
If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser.