A company which owns a Cambridge dairy farm has been fined a total of $26,000 for a range of offences relating to the property.
The charges against J and J Watt Limited included illegally disturbing the beds of a watercourse and a stream, and disturbing the bed of a wetland.
The case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, mostly concerned events between May 2010 and May 2013, at the farm near Leamington. The company also breached a council abatement notice in February 2014.
Hamilton District Court was told that council staff inspected the farm on 20 February 2014 and discovered recent earthworks and soil disturbance in and around watercourses that ultimately lead to the Waikato River. The company had previously obtained a resource consent to carry out re-contouring works to an erosion-prone area of its farm in a gully containing a small but locally significant wetland to produce easier and better grazing land for the farm operations.
However, Judge Craig Thompson found that the company didn’t do what it was supposed to.
“I am slightly mystified that the company …sought and obtained an appropriate consent – but then completely failed to take account of what the consent actually required,” he said in recently released sentencing notes.
“It was careless, inattentive and irresponsible in my view.”
The council said after the sentencing that the result of the offending was significantly increased sediment loads in the stream flowing through the farm. The stream flowed for about 700 metres from the site of the offending to the Waikato River.
The council’s acting investigations manager Derek Hartley said: “This is a case where the company applied for a resource consent and then effectively commenced works without having regard to any of the conditions. Consents are a mechanism to ensure that adverse effects that threaten the environment are managed.”