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Fine for Dairy Company

Media Release 7 February 2008

Fine for Dairy Company

Hawke’s Bay Dairies was today fined $20,000 in the Environment Court in Napier today for a breach of their resource consent to discharge effluent, with further costs to be decided.

Hawke’s Bay Dairies holds a resource consent authorising the discharge of dairy effluent to land, which requires that no more than 112 kg of effluent nitrogen be discharge per hectare per year.

Hawkes Bay Regional Council alleged that 261 kg of nitrogen per hectare was discharged in the 2005/2006 year on the HB Dairies’ Crownthorpe property.

The prosecution was brought by Hawke's Bay Regional Council in November 2007.

Judge Thompson determined that the “Overseer” computer software tool used for nutrient budgeting was overly relied on by the company.

“This tool is widely used in the dairy industry but may need validating for different farm management plans, “said Bryce Lawrence, team leader compliance at Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Despite the company’s best intention to meet their consent conditions, they relied on the software and failed to ensure on a monthly basis that actual results were consistent with the software data, in a similar way the company would check their spending against financial budgets.

“A resource consent sets limits on the amount of nitrogen discharged in the soil – it’s the actual results that need to monitored as a priority to ensure nitrogen loadings are within those limits,” he said.

Judge Thompson put HB Dairies on notice that they are likely to breach their consent again if their process remains unchanged.

The judge confirmed Council’s concern that increasing cows for increased profit can lead to increased nitrogen and therefore an increased likelihood of breaching consents.

ENDS

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