August 14, 2008

Dirty-Dairying Farms on Notice: ES


ENVIRONMENT SOUTHLAND has put several dairy farmers on notice because of their repeat dirty dairying discharges.

Council compliance manager Mark Hunter said a disturbing trend had emerged among some farmers who were beginning to build up a non- compliance history.

"It seems to be that there are a lot of people who just aren't learning their lesson." Four farming companies had been fined after Environment Court hearings in June and last month for unlawful effluent discharge into waterways.

A Fonterra spokesman said the company kept in close contact with the council to identify serial offenders. "While we have been able to work through all of the problems so far, if we reach the point where we can't, we will simply stop taking their milk," the spokesman said.

Fonterra's policy was to encourage sustainable farming.

It had not yet refused any milk from dairy farmers in Southland.

Antara AG Ltd faced its second prosecution in four years, and was fined $16,500 after discharging effluent on to land where it entered water on its Opio farm.

Mr Hunter said the company had failed to comply with the Resource Management Act numerous times since 2004.

The latest fine came after Environment Southland staff found a stalled travelling irrigator, causing effluent to empty into a tributary of the Aparima River.

Environment Court Judge Brian Dwyer said samples taken from the creek indicated considerable deterioration in the quality of the waterway.

Mr Hunter said repeated non-compliance would also eventually lead the council to review a farm's consent.

"But the fines can't go on forever, especially if they don't seem to make a difference." The largest fine, of $20,000, was given to Eatwell Development Ltd, for three infringements in October and Timothy Gray Eatwell was fined $10,000 on two charges relating to the same incidents.

Other offenders included: Union Station Dairies, fined $15,000, after effluent ponds overflowed into open drains and then into Tussock Creek; and White Waters Ltd, fined $8000 after a stalled irrigator discharged effluent that drained into the Waihola Stream, a tributary of the Aparima River.

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