Dirty dairy farm­ers yet to pay fines

Coun­cils is­sue nearly twice as many pol­lu­tion no­tices, re­ports Marty Sharpe.

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - Septem­ber 17, 2017

Two com­pa­nies re­spon­si­ble for ‘‘chronic and in­sid­i­ous’’ dirty dairy­ing have failed to pay fines of $225,000 im­posed by the En­vi­ron­ment Court.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show the num­ber of abate­ment and in­fringe­ment no­tices is­sued nearly dou­bled to 683 in the past year, across all coun­cils.

Chris Allen, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers board spokesman for wa­ter and en­vi­ron­ment, said the fig­ures were dis­ap­point­ing. ‘‘Fed­er­ated Farm­ers con­grat­u­lates all those farm­ers who have been fully com­pli­ant . . . and for those who have non­com­pli­ance – what ever the rea­son be­ing – we’re very very dis­ap­pointed.’’

He said the ris­ing num­bers could re­flect the fact that re­gional coun­cils are polic­ing farm prac­tices a lot more closely.

Clear Ridge Sta­tion and Bee­jay Stud were con­victed on mul­ti­ple charges in Whangarei in Oc­to­ber.

Farms owned by the sis­ter com­pa­nies dis­charged a huge amount of un­treated dairy ef­flu­ent into the Man­ganui River.

Clear Ridge Sta­tion, which held 800-900 cows, was ‘‘awash with dairy ef­flu­ent’’, re­sult­ing in ‘‘gross con­tam­i­na­tion’’. Of the of­fend­ing at Bee­jay Stud, Judge Craig Thomp­son said he could not re­call a worse case of non-com­pli­ance.

As the elec­tion nears, Labour and Na­tional are locked in a bat­tle over whether farm­ers should pay roy­al­ties for their ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter in or­der to help pay for the cleanup of pol­luted streams.

Farm­ers are set to­mor­row to march through Mor­rinsville, the Waikato home­town of Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, to protest her pro­posed wa­ter roy­al­ties.

Green Party leader James Shaw yes­ter­day said a com­bi­na­tion of dairy­ing in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and in­creased coun­cil aware­ness were be­hind the in­crease in pol­lu­tion no­tices.

Coun­cils were act­ing faster to pro­tect wa­ter­ways and, while many farm­ers were do­ing their part, it was ‘‘the tail end’’ that needed to be hur­ried along.

Both the North­land farms had a long his­tory of fines and en­force­ment ac­tion.

Clear Ridge was fined $90,000 and Bee­jay Stud $135,000.

Charges against the di­rec­tor of both com­pa­nies, David Web­ster, were dropped af­ter his com­pa­nies pleaded guilty.

Prop­erty records show that Clear Ridge sold for $4.56 mil­lion in Jan­uary last year, but there is no record of when the farm owned by Bee­jay was sold, or the sale price.

Nearly a year on and the coun­cil has not re­ceived a cent in fines.

North­land Re­gional Coun­cil com­pli­ance man­ager Tess Dacre said the coun­cil con­tacted the court on March 3 over the com­pa­nies’ fail­ure to pay the fines.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice last month told the coun­cil that war­rants to seize prop­erty were in the hands of a bailiff and ‘‘we are hope­ful in an out­come in few weeks’’.

But the min­istry con­firmed that bailiffs had been un­able to ex­e­cute the war­rant.

Web­ster could not be con­tacted.

A cow’s car­cass on a farm near Dar­gav­ille run by Clear Ridge Sta­tion in 2015.

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