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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Rodway/Riddell letter

This missive from two of Environment Southland's councillors will stir the pot, that's for sure!
Jan Riddell and Maurice Rodway have gone public, not to defend the council over the recent charges of sloppy practice, coming from farmers and editors, but to remind readers of the Southland Times of the original motivtion for the council's actions in inspecting stock trucks on and around Gypsy Day - that is, to try to stop the spilling of cow shit onto our roads and into our environment.
I expect there will be responses to their shared letter and I look forward to reading what others think. It would be good to hear from road-users, rather than more of the grumpy farmers that have already expressed their ire through the letters to the editor section of the paper.
Here's the letter:

A curious imbalance of justice exists in the trial by media.
  Environment Southland must always behave impeccably and, granted it has not, mainly at levels deeper than that of the prosecuting officer.
  These issues will be fixed.
  However, the reasons for the council having to act have faded into the background.
  The roads of Southland are doused with cow manure around Gypsy Day every winter, causing a serious road hazard to motorists, and in some cases pollution to streams.
  This has been forgotten in the excitement.
  Sediment, rich in fertilizer and bacteria, washes off the land that has been churned to a muddy slurry by stock that are grazed too close to a stream.
  It pollutes rivers and estuaries.
  The only concern with the anonymous editorial writers is that Environment Southland must always dot the 'i's and cross its t's.
  Yes it must, but if the roads weren't splattered with cow manure, and the rivers and estuaries weren't polluted, then it wouldn't have to get involved in the first place, would it?

Environment Southland

The other side of the story, eh! Who'd have thought there was one of those?


Paranormal said...

So the end justifies the means?

They're not really helping themselves in the court of public opinion are they.

robertguyton said...

They didn't say or imply that at all. They seem to me to be putting the issue into perspective and confirming their position which is that some activities cause environmental harm and action needs to be taken to prevent that.
As to your second comment, maybe so. I await any responses with great interest.

paulinem said...

yes Robert they need to be congratulated they said it well ..enough is enough in regards the cockies attitude ..

So a few ES staff stuffed up doesn't mean to say that the pollution the cow cockies are responsible for is okay. Its time we saw our Govt backing up the regional councils with hard laws to offenders of pollution of our environment.

Paranormal said...

I think you've missed my point quite nicely RG.

When it comes to communication the underlying message of this letter is, "yes maybe our people overstepped the mark but we had to do it - just look at the mess you guys are making..."

What was completely missing for this to be an effective communication was examples of anything constructive that ES has done to help. All the public can see that ES has done is stereotypical overzealous enforcement.

The underlying message is that you naughty people are messy and the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Ponder that for a momoent

robertguyton said...

You are misreading the letter from Crs Riddell and Rodway, paranormal. They are not saying or implying that it's okay or inevitable that the council 'overstepped the mark', in fact they declare 'these issues will be fixed'. What they do remind people of, are the reasons for the ES compliance division, that is, the protection of the environment from the effects of some farming (and other) activities, such as the transport of stock. There is a need for a division of council that investigates and responds to breaches of consents. That's a firmly established and accepted position.

robertguyton said...

I've pondered, Para (in between my slot on RadioLive, talking with Tony Morrell)and would like to add that the messiness you allude to is real and readily apparent to Southlanders during the Gypsy day activities. What hasn't been reported are the many meetings, amivcable and constructive, that ES has had with farmers and truckers, around solving the problem. As for beating the farmer/trucky for continuing to spill shit on the roads, what do you suggest? Turning a blind eye (and nose)?

Paranormal said...

Again you're completely missing my point. The letter is a communications/PR failure.

I am not claiming the messiness doesn't occur - and more regularly than on Gypsy day. I drive a lot on country roads and know what it's like following a truck without holding tanks.

The point is there is nothing in that letter that points out what ES is constructively doing to help the situation.

A precis of the letter from a lay member of the public could be:- ES have admitted their enforcement team stepped over the mark. The reason for this is the mess on the roads, the end. It could almost be read as a tacit statement of the culture within ES. It's how someone on first blanche will read it before passing on to the next item.

For an example of something constructive they could have said was around one of the points the truckies bring up that there are no facilities for them to dump the poo. Surely ES have done something proactive they could have mentioned. I don't think just mentioning "meetings and discussions" will wash if they were included in the letter.

Now do you get the point I'm making? Your ES colleagues have failed in their PR.

robertguyton said...

As I said initially, para, maybe so.
I like the letter because it challenges earlier charges that councillors were hiding behind closed doors. These two aren't. There's isn't btw, the first comment to be written about the issues. An interested reader will already have gleaned information about who's responsible for the mucky roads, who has taken steps to remedy the problem and who's be truculent.
Out of interest, what do you think ought to be done to solve the problem?

Paranormal said...

One thing the truckies talked about in the coverage I saw of the Southland issue is somewhere to clear their holding tanks. Has ES done anythng about that?

The problem seems pretty well sorted in the Waikato/BOP. I'd suggest the ES team have a look at what's worked there. From what I've seen salesyards have stock effluent dumps.

The main problem we have with effluent on raods seems to be where cockies are walking herds across the road from pasture to the milking shed. Under road tunnels are fixing that.

It's not often now that my car is splattered with the mucky stuff and I drive 600 - 900 km's a week.

robertguyton said...

The 'dumps' issue has been workshopped and collaboratively worked on for some time now and several initiatives undertaken by both ES and some trucking companies. the media coverage of that shared problem-solving has been woefully lacking. So too with the discussions with farmers re their responsibilities around standing stock before loading them onto trucks. This issue is not a matter of ES busting truckies, by any stretch. Seems that way to you perhaps.
Southland is well supplied with underpasses. the issue here is during Gypsy Day. We are much further down the track on this than you imagine, I'm bound to say.
Do you reckon truckies should be held responsible for materials that fall from their trucks?

Paranormal said...

My issue was with the poor pr you and your fellow councillors have conducted, and continue with letters such as the one you posted. I said on a previous post that I have only seen the Southland issues from afar through the media.

You are again reinforcing my point that your fellow councillors wasted a golden opportunity to;
1) get the real story out, (at least the side you want the public to know) and
2) actually show they are proactive and constructive.

Forget about getting a fair shake from media - as a general rule the media aren't interested in the story only conflict.

Shane Pleasance said...

Tradgedy of the commons.

robertguyton said...

The roads are commons? I thought they were owned. There are strict rules around them.

robertguyton said...

The opportunity to get the real story out wasn't taken, it's true, paranormal. That wasn't the desire of the letter writers, I'm guessing. Today's response is a sizzler. I'll post it when I can.