An Ōtorohanga farmer has been convicted and fined a total of $57,000 for discharging dairy effluent into the environment. This hefty fine comes within a week of a $41,000 fine imposed on a Reporoa farmer, also for dairy pollution.
Both fines have come about as a result of Waikato Regional Council carrying out prosecutions under the Resource Management Act.
In the most recent case, Judge Melanie Harland sentenced farmer Gary Blackler in the Hamilton District Court. Judge Harland noted that the RMA “has been in place for 27 years”, and “simply put, there has been ample time for farmers in this region to get to grips with the rules”.
In September last year, the council was alerted by a member of the public to a usually clear stream running green and smelling of effluent. Council incident response staff were able to track the contaminated stream some distance to the Blackler property, finding two separate sources of contamination to the stream.
An abatement notice was issued to the farmer and a further inspection carried out in November. This inspection also found a significant area of ponded effluent that was a risk to groundwater.
The council’s investigations and incident response manager, Patrick Lynch, said: “We are very grateful to the person who contacted the council with accurate and timely information about the stream. This enabled us to respond promptly and track the source of the contamination.
“Waikato Regional Council takes breaches of the RMA very seriously and will use all of the regulatory tools available to us to bring about positive behaviour change. For those few farmers who continue to let their own industry down, this fine sends a very clear message that unlawful effluent discharges into the environment will not be tolerated.”