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Record fine for deliberate dairy pollution

The Waikato region has seen its largest ever fine imposed for deliberately discharging dairy effluent to a stream. The stream involved flows directly to the Waikato River.

A decision was released this week from Auckland District Court Judge Melanie Harland, who convicted Fenwick Farms Limited and fined the company $114,000.

The case concerned events between July and September 2012 at the company’s Waiuku farm.

The farm was inspected by Waikato Regional Council staff following a complaint from a member of the public. The council inspectors were staggered to discover an effluent system that had been set up with a pump to deliberately discharge dairy effluent to a stream that flows approximately 3.6 kilometres to the Waikato River, near Port Waikato.

The subsequent investigation found that large volumes of effluent had been pumped to the stream on a number of occasions. Other examples of unlawful discharges into the environment were also identified on the property.

The company pleaded guilty to seven Resource Management Act charges filed by the council.

The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said: “Many effluent prosecutions arise from a degree of negligence, or a want of care. It is unbelievable, in this day and age, that a farmer has been found deliberately discharging raw effluent directly to an open water course. The very high fine imposed clearly reflects the seriousness of this case.

“I am sure this is very disappointing for all of those in the farming industry who are striving to achieve positive environmental outcomes.”

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