22 Mar 2009

Hawke's Bay farm fined $20,000 for polluting creek

9:42 pm on 22 March 2009

Hawke's Bay Regional Council is hoping the dairy industry's tougher line on effluent discharge breaches will reduce its need to prosecute non-compliant dairy farmers.

On Friday, a central Hawke's Bay dairy farming operation, Stockade Pastoral Farms at Waipawa, was fined $20,000 in the Napier District Court for discharging dairy effluent onto land that then contaminated a creek.

The farm owners had defended the prosecution, blaming the farm manager and staff for not properly maintaining the faulty irrigator that cause the effluent problem.

However, the judge said farm owners had to be more proactive in complying with resource consents and protecting the environment.

He warned that fines for this sort of offence were likely to increase to act as a deterrent as the number prosecutions did not appear to be falling.

The regional council's Environmental Regulation Manager, Darryl Lew, says it welcomes the dairy industry taking its own initiatives to improve compliance, with Fonterra's proposal to fine farmers who breach effluent discharge consents.

He says there are 115 dairy farms in the region, but over the last couple of years nearly 10% of these farms have been breaching consents.

Mr Lew says he hopes the dairy industry will carry out its own initiatives to reduce consent breaches so the regional council does not need to become involved.