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Seven Waikato farmers, businesses fined more than $300k for unlawfully discharging effluent

Seven Waikato farmers have been fined a total of more than $300,000 in seven separate court cases for unlawfully discharging effluent.

A Waikato Regional Council officer inspecting an over-application of effluent. Source: Supplied

The cases, sentenced over the past seven months, resulted in $318,025 in fines.

The most recent sentence, formally issued today, was to Trinity Lands Limited. The business, which operates 20 farms in south Waikato, was convicted in relation to the over-application of effluent on a farm at Tirau in October 2019. It was fined $46,900.

The prosecutions were taken by Waikato Regional Council under the Resource Management Act. An over-application of effluent can lead to runoff into waterways.

Waikato Regional Council compliance manager Patrick Lynch said the cases “reflect a very small portion of that industry”.

“However, clearly there are still some in the industry who are not taking their environmental obligations seriously and continue to let the side down,” he said.

“It is now well over 20 years since the current environmental regulation has been in place to manage effluent in this region. I have no doubt that many will be disappointed to see cases such as these still happening.

“Many farmers have excellent systems in place, but we continue to urge all rural businesses to invest in the infrastructure needed to manage effluent effectively, and to ensure they manage those systems every day they are in use.”

The other six cases are as follows, and were convicted after proactive monitoring of the farm or from complaints from members of the public:

  • Trevor George Aitchison, a farmer owner at Morrinsville, was fined a total of $52,500 in relation to unlawfully discharging effluent sump and a disconnected irrigator in August 2019. He was fined in October last year.
  • Brok Farming Limited, which operates a farm in Tamahere, was convicted in relation to the over-application of effluent that made its way to a nearby tributary in September 2019. It was fined $35,000 in September last year.
  • Taupō dairy farmer John Richard Lockwood was convicted in relation to the over-application of effluent in September and October 2019 and again in August last year. He was fined $80,500 in December last year.
  • Te Pahu contract milker Sonya Liddle was convicted in relation to the over-application of effluent from two irrigators in August and October 2019. She was fined $33,500.
  • David Bruce Major, a contract milker employed on an Ōtorohanga dairy farm, was fined $32,500. He was sentenced on three charges relating to the inappropriate application of effluent from an irrigator in September and October 2019. The effluent flowed into the Matapara Stream on each occasion.
  • Farm effluent-spreading company Natural Spreaders Limited, based in the south Waikato, was convicted for the over-application of effluent on a farm at Putaruru in August 2019. The company was fined $37,125 in November last year.