Last season was not only the most productive for dairy farmers, it was also the best of the past four years for having fewer convictions, fines or warnings for discharging cow effluent to waterways.
According to figures provided to The Dominion Post under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, the 2011-12 year - from July 1 to June 30 - was notable for the least convictions and abatement or infringement notices issued in the past four years.
There were 26 completed prosecutions of companies or individuals for discharging effluent to land or water last year, with fines totalling more than $815,000. In the 2010-11 year there were 32 completed prosecutions with fines of more than $1,211,300 compared with 2009-10 (49 fines, totalling $1,144,274-plus) and 2008-09 (47, $592,626-plus).
The exact amount of fines is unknown as Otago Regional Council, unlike other councils, refused to provide figures.
The number of infringement and abatement notices for lesser offences were also down last year, with 681 issued to the country's dairy farms compared to 727 in 2010-11, 839 in 2009-10 and 1039 in 2008-09.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council had the most prosecutions resulting in convictions last year with seven, followed by Northland Regional Council with five and Horizons and Waikato regional councils with four each.
The largest fine last year was $72,000 imposed on Armer Farms (NI), which pleaded guilty to discharging effluent across land and into a stream near the Bay of Plenty town of Maketu.
In the year to date there have been 18 prosecutions resulting in convictions with fines amounting to $697,740, and 269 abatement or infringement notices issued.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has completed the most prosecutions in the year to date with seven resulting in fines of $288,940. The largest fine for the year to date was the $85,000 imposed on White Gold Ltd, prosecuted by Environment Canterbury for discharging 45,000 litres of diluted dairy effluent over three days in 2010, on to land where it could enter Lake Ellesmere.
Last year was the most productive on record due to ideal conditions for pasture growth.
Milk production rose by 11.3 per cent to 19.1 billion litres, the first time it hit double digits since 2000-01, and the number of cows increased by 2.3 per cent to 4.6 million.
THE COST OF MILKING IT
The biggest dairy effluent fines handed out in 2011-2012:
$72,000: Armer Farms (NI) pleaded guilty to discharging effluent across land and into a stream near the town of Maketu, in October 2010. Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
$67,000: Mark and Kylie Stanaway each pleaded guilty to six charges of discharging dairy farm effluent into waterways near Kaipara, and to discharging silage leachate, and breaching an abatement notice. Northland Regional Council.
$53,000: Peter Flood pleaded guilty to three charges of discharging effluent into waterways near Ruawai. Northland Regional Council.
$49,875: Terence Gregan pleaded guilty to three charges of discharging effluent to land where it pooled on a paddock at Otorohanga in November last year. Waikato Regional Council.
$40,500: Kaituna Pastoral Farms pleaded guilty to discharging dairy effluent from an irrigator on to land in circumstances that may result in the effluent entering a watercourse in October 2010. Director Allan Titchmarsh was fined $24,500 for breaching abatement notices in relation to this offending. Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
- The Dominion Post
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