A Te Awamutu farmer has received 10 convictions and been fined $47,000 for illegally discharging dairy effluent into the environment.
The case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, concerned events between December 2011 and March 2012 at three farms near Te Awamutu, owned by Christopher John Howard Empson.
Council staff inspected the properties a total of nine times over four months, each time finding discharges of dairy effluent directly into waterways or to land in such volumes that there was a risk of the effluent leaching to ground water.
On each occasion Mr Empson was directed to cease the unlawful discharges immediately. However, on return visits further discharges were found.
Council inspectors were particularly concerned on one occasion where Mr Empson had been found to be lowering one of his effluent holding ponds by deliberately siphoning large volumes of the effluent into a nearby paddock.
In a sentencing decision released this week by Hamilton District Court, Judge Melanie Harland stated that “…the council has bent over backwards to inform the defendant what is required and has given him considerable opportunity to do what is required, but his approach has been to avoid dealing with these matters in a timely way, or at all”.
Council investigations manager Patrick Lynch said: “This farmer has simply not faced the reality of modern farming. He is a career farmer, with a number of farms, but has been unwilling to change the impact of his farming operations on the environment until there has been court intervention.
“Unfortunately, I am aware of several other farming operations in this region that are likely to also end up facing criminal charges in the near future because of their poor environmental practices.”