4 Aug 2008

Farm gets record fine for effluent breach

5:01 pm on 4 August 2008

A farm owned by one of New Zealand's biggest dairy farming enterprises has received a record fine for breaching its effluent discharge conditions.

The Environment Court in Napier fined Taharua Farm $37,500 for discharging dairy effluent that was well over its permitted level.

The farm, 28 kilometres from Taupo, is owned by the Crafar Group, which operates a large number of dairy farms in the central North Island.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which brought the prosecution, says it is the largest fine to be imposed for a single dairy effluent offence.

The compliance team leader, Bryce Lawrence, says it is the fourth time a farm in the Crafar Group has been convicted for this type of offence.

He says they have a resource consent to discharge effluent from 3,000 dairy cows onto land. Mr Lawrence says media coverage of the Dairy Farmer of the Year award, which was given to the manager, highlighted that they were milking approximately 4,500 cows.

He says the council initiated an investigation that demonstrated that over a two-month period they were in fact discharging 188 cubic metres of effluent per day, when their consent only allowed 80 cubic metres.

Mr Lawrence says the judge based the fine on potential cumulative effects of dairy effluent getting into waterways.

He says Hawkes Bay Regional Council had to take some form of enforcement action against about 10% of dairy farms in the region in the past year for effluent breaches.