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Variety of punishments for polluting dairy farmers

Following on the heels of a Tauwhare farmer being fined $34,000 last week, the District Court has imposed further fines totalling $45,000 and 150 hours community service on four dairy farmers for illegally discharging dairy effluent in unrelated incidents at Putaruru and Waikite Valley, near Rotorua.

These latest penalties have arisen from two cases taken by the Waikato Regional Council under the Resource Management Act and are linked to a series of incidents between October 2009 and January 2012.

The men involved were David Preest (fined $26,250), Herbert Wilson (fined $15,000), both of Rotorua, Barry Dixon (fined $3750), now resident overseas, and Cameron Bishop of Putaruru who was sentenced to 150 hours community service. Each of the four men also had convictions entered against them.

In sentencing earlier this week, Judge Craig Thompson commented on the “insidious and cumulative effects” of such discharges to the environment and that these effects were “more recognised as time goes on”.

Specifically referring to the discharges at Waikite Valley, Judge Thompson stated that “the three men are remorseful and specific deterrence is not required in this case, however there is still a need for general deterrence.

“People need to know that the RMA is there and will be enforced.”

The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said: “As well as harming the environment polluters need to realise that they are exposing themselves to a variety of court imposed punishments.

“Though most people are aware of the significant fines that can be imposed, the court can also sentence people to community service, or even community and home detention. This is in addition to being subjected to the court process and having a conviction entered against your name. This is the unpleasant reality of offending against the RMA.”

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