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Fined farmer attempted to ‘influence’ council inspectors

A Morrinsville farming company has received three convictions and been fined $48,750 for unlawfully discharging dairy effluent into the environment.

During the course of the Waikato Regional Council inspections that led to the prosecution, Bilkar Singh, a director of B & V Singh Limited, asked the inspecting officers not to report the matter to their supervisors and to take water samples in a manner that would not show any environmental effect.  

Repeated comments such as “how much to make it go away” were made by Mr Singh to the two officers.   

The farm was inspected twice by council officers in November and December 2013 after the farm had been identified as having a ‘high risk’ effluent system. The officers discovered on both occasions that there had been unlawful discharges of dairy effluent to farm drains that flow into a tributary of the Piako River. 

The council subsequently initiated a prosecution for offences against the Resource Management Act.  

The matter was heard in the Hamilton District Court before Judge Melanie Harland who commented that in her view “a stern response is required in this case to denounce the attempts by Mr Bilkar Singh to influence the investigation, and to reflect the defendant’s lack of urgency in dealing with the inadequacies of its infrastructure. There seems to have been little regard for, and attempt made, to prevent the discharges into water…” 

“As well as the disregard shown for the environment I think it is fair to say that the behaviour of Mr Singh has been quite appalling,” said council investigations manager Patrick Lynch.  

“Council officers have a challenging enough job as it is. For staff to be subjected to repeated suggestions to act inappropriately, and illegally, is totally unacceptable. The two officers involved reported the behaviour immediately.”

 

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