Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Council urges farmer vigilance

Waikato Regional Council officer inspecting extent of over application of effluent.

Seven separate court cases against Waikato farmers and businesses have found that they each unlawfully discharged farm effluent into the environment.

The cases have been finalised over the last three months, with the final case being made public today, resulting in convictions and a total of $318,025 in fines.

The prosecutions were taken by Waikato Regional Council under the Resource Management Act.

“Farming is obviously a huge and vital industry that contributes to this region’s economy and communities in many ways,” said council regional compliance manager, Patrick Lynch.  

“The farming enterprises that feature in these seven cases reflect a very small portion of that industry. However, clearly there are still some in the industry who are not taking their environmental obligations seriously and continue to let the side down,” he said.

“It is now well over 20 years since the current environmental regulation has been in place to manage effluent in this region. I have no doubt that many will be disappointed to see cases such as these still happening.  

“Many farmers have excellent systems in place, but we continue to urge all rural businesses to invest in the infrastructure needed to manage effluent effectively, and to ensure they manage those systems every day they are in use.” 

AITCHISON

In the first case, Trevor George Aitchison, a farmer owner at Morrinsville, was convicted in relation to unlawfully discharging effluent from an overflowing effluent sump and a disconnected irrigator in August 2019. Mr Aitchison was fined a total of $52,500 by Judge Brian Dwyer in the Hamilton District Court on 27 October 2020. The council became aware of the incident through proactive monitoring of the farm.

BROK FARMING LTD 

In the second case, Brok Farming Limited, a company operating a farm at Tamahere, was convicted in relation to over application of effluent that made its way to a nearby tributary in September 2019.  The company was fined $35,000 by Judge Melinda Dickey in the Hamilton District Court on 25 September 2020. The council was alerted to the incident by a notification from a member of the public.

LOCKWOOD 

In the third case, Taupō dairy farmer John Richard Lockwood was convicted in relation to over application of effluent in September and October 2019 and again in August 2020. Mr Lockwood was fined $80,500 by Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Taupō District Court on 1 December 2020. The council became aware of the incident through proactive monitoring of the farm.

LIDDLE 

In the fourth case, Sonya Liddle, a Te Pahu contract milker, was convicted in relation to over application of effluent from two irrigators in August and October 2019. Ms Liddle was fined $33,500 by Judge Jeff Smith in the Hamilton District Court. The discharges were identified during two separate council inspections, one the result of a complaint from the public.  

MAJOR  

In the fifth case, David Bruce Major, a contract milker employed on an Ōtorohanga dairy farm, was sentenced on three charges relating to inappropriate application of effluent from an irrigator in September and October 2019. On each occasion the effluent flowed into the Matapara Stream that ultimately flows to the Pūniu River. Mr Major was fined $32,500 by Judge Brian Dwyer in the Hamilton District Court on 28 October 2020. The council was alerted to the breaches by a notification from a member of the public.

NATURAL SPREADERS LTD  

In the sixth case, Natural Spreaders Limited, a company operating a farm effluent spreading company based in south Waikato, was convicted in relation to over application of effluent on a farm at Putaruru in August 2019. The company was fined $37,125 by Judge Melanie Harland in the Hamilton District Court on 30 November 2020. The council became aware of the incident through proactive monitoring of the farm.

TRINITY LANDS LTD  

In the final case, Trinity Lands Limited, a company operating 20 farms in the south Waikato, was convicted in relation to over application of effluent on a farm at Tirau in October 2019. The company was fined $46,900 by Judge Melinda Dickey in the Tokoroa District Court with the sentence formally issued on 18 January 2021. The council became aware of the incident through a complaint from a member of the public.

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