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Dairy conversion attracts large fine

A Waikato dairy farming company has received seven convictions and been fined a total of $52,500 for discharging dairy effluent into the environment and breaching council abatement notices ordering a halt to unlawful discharges.

The offending followed the conversion of a dry stock farm to a dairying operation.

In the Hamilton District Court this week, Judge David Kirkpatrick handed down the sentence to Cazjal Farm Limited for breaches of the Resource Management Act at its Wharepuhunga farm near Otorohanga between June and October 2016.

The prosecution, brought by Waikato Regional Council, followed complaints about dairy effluent entering streams on the property.

The council’s investigation found that the farm was converted from dry stock to an intensive dairy operation in early 2014 and, on occasion, would milk over 1000 cows, creating large volumes of dairy effluent at the cow shed and a feed pad.

Due to the steepness of the land, and significant rainfall in the area, there was a need for a substantial effluent management infrastructure to protect against unwanted discharges into the environment.

“Unfortunately, a woefully inadequate storage facility was in place meaning that discharges of dairy effluent into the environment were inevitable,” said the council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch. 

Despite formal direction from the council the required infrastructure was not installed until after a prosecution had commenced and four separate discharge incidents had been identified.

In his sentencing decision, Judge Kirkpatrick said: “I appreciate that the cost of conversion is significant, but it is not an acceptable approach to move some of that cost on to the environment by delaying the installation of a complete effluent disposal system.”

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