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Dairy compliance falling on deaf ears

Thursday, 10 November 2011 3:30 p.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is concerned the importance of environmental compliance is falling on deaf ears for a portion of the farming community. This follows three cases heard in the Tauranga District Court yesterday relating to pollution reaching waterways.

Regional Council Water Management Group Manager Eddie Grogan said these prosecutions highlight the need for dairy farmers to be far more vigilant about what is happening on their farms when using effluent irrigation systems.

During the first case yesterday, Glenholme Farm was found guilty of discharging effluent onto land.  The effluent flowed into a watercourse that ultimately leads to the Nukuhou River.  The company's director Paul Atkinson was found guilty of the same charge.  Sentencing for this case will take place in December at Tauranga District Court.

In a separate case, Warneford Farms Limited was fined $26,000 for discharging effluent onto land.  The effluent in this case also flowed into a watercourse that ultimately leads to the Nukuhou River. Enforcement orders were also issued requiring Warneford Farms Limited to provide an effluent management plan to the Regional Council and install irrigator monitoring equipment.

For breaching an abatement notice in relation to dairy effluent discharges Allan Titchmarsh was fined $24,500. The effluent had flowed into a farm drainage system that discharges to the Kaituna River.  Mr Titchmarsh was also issued with an enforcement order requiring him produce an effluent management plan to the Regional Council which specifies his obligations as a farm manager.

Mr Titchmarsh's conviction followed the related prosecution of his company Kaituna Pastoral Farms for discharging effluent. Kaituna Pastoral Farms Limited was fined $40,500 for its role in the offending. 

Mr Grogan said in the past year the Regional Council had noted an increase in compliance issues on dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty - particularly relating to travelling irrigation systems. 

"Travelling irrigation systems are much more prone to failure and need to be maintained and placed carefully so they are always well away from waterways," Mr Grogan said

Mr Grogan said the three cases before the Court yesterday were avoidable. They were amongst eight prosecutions brought by the Council in the last year for dairy effluent discharges. 

"The latest prosecutions have been a real blow for industry partners who are putting in a huge effort to help achieve 100 percent compliance, 365 days a year."  

Industry partners including DairyNZ, Fonterra, Federated Farmers and the Regional Council have been working collaboratively to provide farmers with a number of free tools, workshops and local advisor support.

"We all want to achieve 100 percent compliance but we can't get ahead if we keep having a minority of farmers making basic errors and ignoring their legal responsibility to protect our waterways," Mr Grogan said. 

For information and advice on farm management visit or call your Bay of Plenty Regional Council Resource Consent Officer on 0800 884 880.


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