Couple gathers support to fight spray operation

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Opponents of a planned wilding pine spray operation have been told to form a new group if they want to fight it.

And a Fernhill couple are doing just that.

On Monday, about 40 people turned up for an at-times feisty meeting about an aerial spraying operation on fast-spreading pine trees on the ridges above Fernhill and Sunshine Bay.

The Fernhill Sunshine Bay Community Association called the meeting to get the Wakatipu Wilding Control Group to explain the operation.

Association chairman Rob Freer told the meeting his committee was split on the issue and opponents should “form your own group”.

“The Fernhill Sunshine Bay Community Association won’t be backing you on this.”

Queenstown councillor Mel Gazzard says legal action is one possible route for battlers.

Fernhill couple Spike and Sue Wademan are gathering support for such a fight.

“This is about a battle for Fernhill,” Sue tells Mountain Scene.

“If that’s the catalyst for other people to take it up and run with it then sobeit.”

The $1.4 million helicopter boom spraying will happen in January, at least 750 metres from the nearest house.

However, fears were raised at the meeting about the spray mixture wafting near houses, the possibility of chemicals leaching into waterways and the visual blight of dying trees in a tourist town.

Opponents like Alastair McLay say the trees need to be controlled but he’s against spraying as the method.

Queenstown council staffer Briana Pringle, who manages the Wakatipu Wilding Control Group, says the chemicals sprayed from the helicopter boom are the same used to spray roadside weeds and the operation will only be carried out in still weather.

She says testing has revealed no problem with leaching in waterways.

School teacher Mark Douglas says the pines are killing native beech trees in their path and must be stopped.

The Wademans can be contacted at: stopthesprayqt@gmail.com

david@scene.co.nz