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Kiwifruit orchard land on register

Tuesday, 9 June 2015 10:00 a.m.

Bay of Plenty orchards which are no longer used to grow kiwifruit still need to be registered on Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) database.

The Regional Council is currently registering kiwifruit orchard land across the region on its HAIL data base if at any time it was used to bulk store or use persistent pesticides including arsenic and copper-based sprays. HAIL was created by the Ministry for the Environment, and includes 53 activities and industries that could potentially cause soil contamination on land.

The types of land to be registered include sports turfs, market gardens, orchards, glass houses and spray sheds. In the Bay of Plenty this includes about 3,000 kiwifruit orchards. Pesticide spray residues can affect human health when they accumulate in soils.

Copper spray, which is also used on organic orchards, is regarded as a contaminant when it enters waterways because it affects aquatic and marine life.

Regional Council Senior Project Implementation Officer Reece Irving said a few landowners had been confused because their land was no longer used for kiwifruit growing, as vines had been removed. However as the past land use included application of pesticide sprays, it still needed to be registered.

“We register all land that has been used for this purpose at any time, because of spray use. Landowners need to understand that registration on the HAIL database does not mean land is contaminated.”

He said the only time the HAIL registration would have any effect was if there was a future change in land use, such as converting the orchard into a residential subdivision. Then the site would have to be investigated and soil samples tested.

“If the land use changes the landowner will have to prove the site soils are suitable for the proposed new use, and won’t cause any adverse effects on human health or the environment.

“As long as the orchard remains in production, landowners won’t have to do any site investigation. This only needs to be done if the use changes.”

The Regional Council wrote to the owners of all kiwifruit orchards last month, with a site report outlining the information held on each site. Landowners have until 17 June to respond if they think the information  is inaccurate.

Once the Council and the landowner have agreed the information held is correct, and that the land was or is still a kiwifruit orchard where horticultural sprays have been used, the record forms part of the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) for the site.

Mr Irving said because many orchards had begun to sell their land for residential subdivision following the Psa outbreak, the soil needed to be investigated to ensure it was suitable for development.

Land used for kiwifruit growing could potentially have elevated residues as sprays stayed in the soil for a very long time.

Avocado orchards and commercial glass houses are also being registered.

“This is being done nation-wide by regional councils and unitary authorities where land has been used for horticulture. While the current owner may not have used sprays on their property, earlier uses could indicate spray use, and that’s why we need a clear picture of the land use history to help decide if it needs to be registered.

“Owners need not be concerned that the registration indicates their land is contaminated. It’s just to ensure that any change in future use protects human health and is environmentally safe.

Frequently asked questions about the project are on Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s website.

Wild Kiwifruit