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Four Bay dairy farms fined for polluting

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 11:15 a.m.

Bay of Plenty dairy farmers were reminded of the serious penalties for polluting after four were prosecuted last week for various degrees of contamination to waterways.The two businesses and three individuals (3 eastern Bay, 1 western Bay) were sentenced last week in the Environment Court in Tauranga.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Water Management Group Manager Eddie Grogan said these prosecutions showed us that some farmers in our region were still not carrying out the necessary checks.

"All four dairy cases were a result of poor management of effluent systems, including ponds and irrigators," Mr Grogan said.

The two companies and three farmers received significant fines totalling more than $118,000, which reflected the recent increase in penalties available to the Environment Court after an amendment to the Resource Management Act.

"However the real significant shift in direction from the Court was the imposing of enforcement orders requiring each farm to develop contingency plans for effluent disposal," Mr Grogan said. 

These plans must address issues including equipment maintenance, staff training, monitoring of effluent systems, and ensuring storage is appropriate.
Mr Grogan said that the penalties reflected the severity of the situation.

"We are pleased that these cases all received enforcement orders and significant fines and hope that this will be a deterrent to others. This is a timely reminder for farmers to check they have all the correct systems in place to manage effluent even on the busiest, wettest days," Mr Grogan said.

The Regional Council works alongside a number of stakeholders to assist farmers to remain compliant 365 days a year, and several free tools are available.

"A Massey Pond Storage Calculator is available to farmers to help calculate risk, ensuring that effluent systems have the right storage capacity so that effluent irrigation only occurs during the right soil moisture conditions. This ensures that nutrients are utilised effectively, which is good for the environment and farmers productivity," Mr Grogan said.

"In many cases however, the right systems may be in place but it all comes down to farm operators. Farmers need to ensure maintenance of their equipment is undertaken regularly, and that staff are fully trained in the operation of the equipment."

Mr Grogan said that it is crucial new farm workers are aware of all the requirements to remain compliant.

"A simple checklist has been created as a guide to ensure new workers go through the right induction and farmers can be confident they will not risk compliance," Mr Grogan said.

Ends.

The farmers and companies prosecuted were:

  • Kaituna Pastoral Farms Ltd, Te Puke: $40,500 plus costs for discharging dairy effluent from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.
  • Anthony Johannes De Groot, Waimana: $20,000 plus costs for discharging dairy effluent from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.
  • Michael Johannes De Groot, Waimana: 10,000 plus costs for discharging dairy effluent from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.
  • Riverlock Farms Ltd, Ōpōtiki: $40,000 plus costs for discharging dairy effluent from an effluent pond and discharging from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.
  • Joseph Paratene Walker, Ōpōtiki: $8000 plus costs for discharging dairy effluent from a pond where it could enter a waterway, and twice contravening an abatement notice.

For media information contact Communications Advisor Clare Dowthwaite, 0800 884 881 ext 8148 or 021 989 666.

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