Bid to get stock off roads queried

'Quaint ambience' of quiet East Coast roads at risk: deputy mayor.

'Quaint ambience' of quiet East Coast roads at risk: deputy mayor.

NEW rules to prevent stock wandering on to roads could ruin the “quaint ambience” of quieter East Coast roads, the deputy mayor says.

Gisborne District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee discussed the draft stock control bylaw at a meeting this week.

Deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz said she agreed the state highways should be fenced, but not some of the quieter roads.

Stock wandering around rural roads, like the East Cape Road, provided a unique experience.

“I think when tourists travel down to the lighthouse, or travel down the road, they like that quaint East Coast ambience.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency is concerned Gisborne’s current bylaw has no controls regarding stock wandering on roads or grazing on road sides.

There were 149 accidents involving animals in this region in the past 10 years, with a social cost — including loss of work and ongoing care for debilitating injuries — of more than $8.3 million.

While the majority did not result in injuries, the council was advised there were deaths prior to 2006 as a result of unsupervised stock on the road.

Of the animal-related accidents, 99 percent were the result of stray animals and 81 percent occurred in dark/twilight conditions.

The majority occurred on State Highway 35, followed by SH2.

Fenced within a year

The new bylaw would require all properties with stock adjacent to state highways to be fenced within one year, and those adjacent to local roads and beaches within three years.

Council strategic planning manager David Wilson said they were aware how onerous fencing would be on farmers and were keen to get submissions, especially regarding costs and the timeframe.

In response to Ms Stoltz, Mr Wilson said along the East Cape Road sometimes stock went all over the road, and there were no fences.

While at times it was quiet along the road, logging truck volumes would be increasing. Many people also drove on the road at night.

The NZTA was particularly concerned about stock wandering around East Coast roads in general, in regards to the predicted increase in logging trucks and tourism.

“We do need to make it safer,” Mr Wilson said.

“We know of reported near-misses, and we also have a lot of unreported near-misses because of the amount of stock that are on our roads.

“These roads have 100 kilometres per hour speed limits. If a car hits a full-size cow at 100kmh it is not good for anybody. It is a horrific accident.”

Through the consultation they were looking at sensibilities and how they could practically roll out the rules.

Discretion with rules

Ms Stoltz felt there should be discretion in how the rules applied.

“At the moment tourism on East Cape Road is limited. People know to go slow there.

“Is it realistic to ask that landowner to fence his farm because there might be forestry? We do expect new tourism numbers, but I think people like that quaint country road.

“It gives it a whole East Cape feeling.”

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour was concerned some of the rules and implementation period were too lenient.

“Farmers have an obligation to keep stock off highways. If someone hits a horse on a road then the landowner is liable.

“We would expect state highways to be fenced, and the requirement of one year is excessively generous. Three years for local roads again is excessive.

“Most of the district is fenced because landowners take a responsible attitude and see that they keep stock off the road.”

The draft Stock Control Bylaw 2017 will be sent to farming, emergency management and community stakeholders for consultation.

NEW rules to prevent stock wandering on to roads could ruin the “quaint ambience” of quieter East Coast roads, the deputy mayor says.

Gisborne District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee discussed the draft stock control bylaw at a meeting this week.

Deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz said she agreed the state highways should be fenced, but not some of the quieter roads.

Stock wandering around rural roads, like the East Cape Road, provided a unique experience.

“I think when tourists travel down to the lighthouse, or travel down the road, they like that quaint East Coast ambience.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency is concerned Gisborne’s current bylaw has no controls regarding stock wandering on roads or grazing on road sides.

There were 149 accidents involving animals in this region in the past 10 years, with a social cost — including loss of work and ongoing care for debilitating injuries — of more than $8.3 million.

While the majority did not result in injuries, the council was advised there were deaths prior to 2006 as a result of unsupervised stock on the road.

Of the animal-related accidents, 99 percent were the result of stray animals and 81 percent occurred in dark/twilight conditions.

The majority occurred on State Highway 35, followed by SH2.

Fenced within a year

The new bylaw would require all properties with stock adjacent to state highways to be fenced within one year, and those adjacent to local roads and beaches within three years.

Council strategic planning manager David Wilson said they were aware how onerous fencing would be on farmers and were keen to get submissions, especially regarding costs and the timeframe.

In response to Ms Stoltz, Mr Wilson said along the East Cape Road sometimes stock went all over the road, and there were no fences.

While at times it was quiet along the road, logging truck volumes would be increasing. Many people also drove on the road at night.

The NZTA was particularly concerned about stock wandering around East Coast roads in general, in regards to the predicted increase in logging trucks and tourism.

“We do need to make it safer,” Mr Wilson said.

“We know of reported near-misses, and we also have a lot of unreported near-misses because of the amount of stock that are on our roads.

“These roads have 100 kilometres per hour speed limits. If a car hits a full-size cow at 100kmh it is not good for anybody. It is a horrific accident.”

Through the consultation they were looking at sensibilities and how they could practically roll out the rules.

Discretion with rules

Ms Stoltz felt there should be discretion in how the rules applied.

“At the moment tourism on East Cape Road is limited. People know to go slow there.

“Is it realistic to ask that landowner to fence his farm because there might be forestry? We do expect new tourism numbers, but I think people like that quaint country road.

“It gives it a whole East Cape feeling.”

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour was concerned some of the rules and implementation period were too lenient.

“Farmers have an obligation to keep stock off highways. If someone hits a horse on a road then the landowner is liable.

“We would expect state highways to be fenced, and the requirement of one year is excessively generous. Three years for local roads again is excessive.

“Most of the district is fenced because landowners take a responsible attitude and see that they keep stock off the road.”

The draft Stock Control Bylaw 2017 will be sent to farming, emergency management and community stakeholders for consultation.

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