A Thames farming company was ordered by a judge “not to commence milking” until a new dairy effluent system is in operation on its Kopu farm.
The order followed conviction on four environmental offences and a fine of $47,250 for offending which had “long term and insidious” effects on the environment.
The order and comments came from Judge Jeff Smith in sentencing Tuitahi Farms Limited in a decision released from the Auckland District Court last week.
However, the farm has subsequently upgraded its effluent system and has been able to commence milking.
The company’s farm was inspected by Waikato Regional Council officers following an aerial monitoring flight in September 2013.
The officers discovered a range of unlawful discharges into the environment, including milk vat waste and large volumes of dairy effluent being discharged directly into farm drains. The drains flow a short distance to the Waihou River which flows to the Firth of Thames.
The council subsequently initiated a prosecution for offences against the Resource Management Act.
“Though this farmer should have made improvements years ago, we realise that the order initiated by the court put him in a difficult situation. Cows are calving and the dairy shed, where effluent collects, needs to be used at this time of year,” said council investigations manager Patrick Lynch.
“However, we are very happy to report that council officers inspected the property last week and confirmed that a robust effluent management system is now in place and operational. This effluent system now has the ability to protect the environment 365 days of the year and the farmer can get on with his business lawfully.”
Mr Lynch said the upgraded effluent system was designed by an accredited designer. “It complies with the Dairy Effluent Code of Practice and meets the challenges of farming in low lying areas. They have created above ground storage with sufficient volume to make the most of the effluent and water for irrigation during the dry summer months.”