Thursday, October 28, 2010

electronic bird scarers, local law still not right

report from the roundtable - 26 oct

Council had to consider the final version of the Electronic Bird Deterrent Local Law 2010. The law has been before us twice before.

It is a complex matter and raises the issues of tensions between agriculture, environment and residential areas when they're next door to each other.

I seconded a motion to resolve not to proceed with the making of the proposed local law and that the draft law be reconsidered as part of the Scare Gun Local Law review to commence in 2011.

I didn't want to see the draft law proceed for a number of reasons.

As it currently stands the draft law does not solve environmental issues and does not solve farmer's issues.

I was concerned that the exclusions zones prescribed did not go far enough or cover enough species. I thought that there should be at least a 1000mt exclusion zone, not only from Helmeted Honeyeaters, but known nesting sites of Powerful Owls and Sooty Owls too. The officer's report supported the suggested exclusion zones did take account of literature on the subject but it is my view that the literature in relation to this issue is far from conclusive.

I also had concerns about the times prescribed for use of the devices, farmers weren't allowed to use the devices before 7:00am and birds would have no trouble destroying a crop between sunrise and 7:00am.

This is netting over an apple orchard in Lysterfield. Netting can benefit farmers in many ways, it stops the prevalence of blemishes, sunburn and rub on fruit, stops hail damage as well as reducing chemical and water use, it also keeps birds and bats at bay too.

I had concerns about the electronic devices not being the most effective way to control birds and cited a recent report by the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Managing Bird Damage to Fruit and Other Horticultural Crops. "Birds ignore sounds afer a short time if they are repetitive, emanate from the same point source, and pose no physical threat."

Council's Green Wedge Management Plan talks about council supporting sustainable farming and in my view electronic bird scaring devices are not the most sustainable choice for crop protection. It is my view that the more sustainable option to protect crops is netting, the DAFF report says "Netting overcomes concerns about the use of chemicals, animal welfare issues, and restrictions on the use of acoustic devices".

I don't think the draft law as it stands got it right, there's too many issues still outstanding and I think it needs more work. It really is a complex issue which needs more examination. The majority of councillors agreed.

Councillors for the motion:
Crs Samantha Dunn, Tim Heenan, Graham Warren, Chris Templar, Terry Avery and Len Cox
Crs Jeanette McRae, Richard Higgins and Noel Cliff.

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