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National List MP based in West Coast - Tasman Maureen Pugh is calling for helicopter operators to be allowed to go ahead with vital forestry spraying on 4500 hectares of land in the Tasman District. She has written to the Forestry Minister Shane Jones asking for his intervention and for commonsense to prevail - ‘we have a ridiculous situation where operators are currently allowed to carry out aerial spraying on agricultural land on one side of a fence but are prevented from essential forestry spraying on the other side. The risks are the same and the person-to-person contact remains at zero’ Mrs Pugh says.

Approaches to MPI in Wellington for a dispensation earlier this week have brought a firm ‘no’ response.

Mrs Pugh says the long-term implications are concerning - ‘the window of opportunity for action is very tight’. ‘ The seedlings need to be in the ground soon so that they receive the benefits of late winter and spring rain before the harsh heat of summer, plus they will be in the way of new season’s plantings in the nurseries.’ Mrs Pugh says there will be a huge gap in the supply chain in years to come if urgent action isn’t taken now.

‘None of this work poses any threat to our current Covid-19 situation and we need some commonsense here so this forestry planting is not held up’ Maureen Pugh says.

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