Armer Farms (NI), owned by Fonterra director Colin Armer, has been fined $72,000 plus costs for the unlawful discharge of dairy effluent after a prosecution brought against the company by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The farm's effluent irrigation system failed, resulting in dairy effluent ponding in a paddock, which then flowed across land and into a stream near the Bay of Plenty town of Maketu, in October 2010. The stream travels through other properties below the dairy farm before emerging at Newdicks Beach.
Armer Farms (NI) previously admitted the charge in Tauranga District Court.
Regional council pollution prevention manager Nick Zaman said the dairy industry had been working hard to give farmers advice on their legal responsibilities to protect waterways.
"This sort of event is really discouraging for all the farmers and industry partners striving to exceed expectations - and for the farmers and farm owners who comply with their resource consents. Unfortunately, others fail to take the responsibility they owe the community.
"It's unfortunate that this has come before courts because the unlawful discharge of dairy effluent is easily avoidable with the proper maintenance and checks in place," Zaman said.
"While we would prefer that there were no prosecutions at all, we do hope today's sentence serves as a reminder to others that the courts, council, and the wider community, will not tolerate the pollution of our environment."
Armer, one of 13 directors of dairy cooperative Fonterra, said the pollution that triggered the prosecution came from a split pipe and lasted about 24 hours.
He has been a Fonterra director since 2006 and chairs the supplier relations committee.
Armer was not on the farm when the offence happened.
"I'm a director of about 90 farming companies with about 450 staff in total across the group, and we take environmental stuff very, very seriously," he said.
"The manager on this particular farm has had a splendid record for the last 12 years until the accident happened."
- Fairfax Media