01 March 2023

Two Aongatete farmers have been convicted and fined a total of $28,000 for discharging dairy shed effluent to land where it entered a tributary of the Aongatete estuary. 

Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Francis Nettleingham and John Nettleingham for the discharge of dairy shed effluent that occurred on their Aongatete farm on 13 October 2021. The farm operates as a small calf-rearing enterprise, milking about thirty cows to feed the calves. Both men were fined $14,000 each.

Dairy effluent has high nutrient, ammonia and bacterial levels. Nitrogen levels were above the identified protection values, toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Contamination has cumulative effects on Tauranga Harbour contributing to algae blooms and a heightened health risk to recreational users.

Judge DA Kirkpatrick said, “A relatively simple system for diverting stormwater and cowshed effluent to appropriate destinations was not operated properly. There does not appear to have been any fault or problem with the elements of the system, only with the way in which the defendants used it.” 

Francis Nettleingham, the landowner, and John Nettleingham, the farm manager, pleaded guilty to the charge. 

Regional Council Compliance Manager, Alex Miller, says, "The Aongatete estuary has high cultural and ecological values. Everybody has duties and responsibilities to manage their dairy shed effluent to avoid unwanted pollution entering the environment. Regardless of the scale of the farm and the dairy operation, farmers need to put the design, operation, maintenance and inspection of their effluent management systems at the forefront of their work."

For more information on environmental enforcement and to view the sentencing decision, please visit our website boprc.govt.nz/environmental-enforcement

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