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Two prosecutions a warning for dairy farmers

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Two prosecutions a warning for dairy farmers

For immediate release: Thursday 6 October 2005

Two successful prosecutions for polluting waterways with dairy shed effluent are a timely warning for dairy farmers at the start a new monitoring season, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Principal compliance officer Steve Pickles hopes the recent prosecutions will remind farmers to always give priority to the safety of the environment. “They show how serious we are about protecting the environment – and how seriously the courts take it too.”

The Environment Court heard the two separate cases in late September in Whakatane. Both happened in spring last year.

In one case, the resource consent holder, a Galatea farm business, had contracted a company to decommission four dairy effluent ponds on neighbouring properties. The digger driver was instructed to discharge the contents into drains, which fed into a tributary of the Rangitaiki River. Mr Pickles estimated between 500 and 1000 cubic metres of sludge was put in the drains.

The court fined the farm business $4000 with additional costs of about $600. The court also required the business to pay $3250 for costs associated with dredging a downstream duck pond that was badly polluted by the sludge. The driver was fined $500 with costs of about $600.

The second prosecution was brought against a Waimana farm. In this case, dairy shed effluent had discharged into a spring-fed creek instead of a contingency pond because of a mechanical fault with the effluent pump. The business was fined $3500 plus about $600 costs. The farmer was convicted and discharged.

Regulation and monitoring committee chairman Ian Noble says many farmers are working hard to look after the environment in the Bay of Plenty. A group of Rerewhakaaitu farmers has just won an environmental award for achieving 100% compliance for dairy consents for the past two years. “It’s a pity when a few farmers let down so many others,” he says. “Although Environment Bay of Plenty will take enforcement action for cases like this, we would much prefer that farmers do the right thing and safeguard the environment.”

Environment Bay of Plenty staff have just begun their annual round of dairy shed checks. They will visit about 400 properties over the next few months, some without prior warning as part of an audit programme.

ENDS

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