Rangitikei Line farmer convicted for effluent-discharge breaches
A former sharemilker of the year competitor has been convicted and fined for allowing ponds of cow effluent to form on his Rangitikei Line farm.
Duncan Bruce Cheetham was convicted in the Palmerston North District Court earlier this week on several charges of breaching abatement notices for discharge of effluent to land where it might enter an unnamed tributary of the Taonui Stream.
Cheetham, owner of Kauwhata Farm in Rangitikei Line, had l blamed the breaches on his former farm manager Darryl Woods but Judge Brian Dwyer said the responsibility lay with Cheetham.
Cheetham was personally fined $36,000 and his company DB and AE Cheetham Ltd was also fined $36,000.
Farm effluent was sent from the dairy shed through to hydrants around the property for dispersal
The result was large areas of ponding developing around the base of the hydrants, covering up to 200 square metres in some areas.
Witnesses told of effluent being sprayed onto neighbouring properties, irrigators going too close to boundaries and getting stuck and fountains of effluent shooting into the air before settling to pond around the base of hydrants.
Cheetham told the court that he had been a hands-off owner and had not wanted to micromanage his workers. He said he thought of himself more as a farm adviser.
He owns two other farms in Bell Rd and Makino Rd, Feilding.
Woods had accused Cheetham of not maintaining the effluent system to a high standard and said that he knew the system was not working properly and there were issues.
Cheetham said Woods was responsible for the system and was lazy.
Horizons' acting group manager for regional planning and regulatory issues, Craig Grant, said the effluent pollution was disappointing.
"It is disappointing to be in this situation and that disappointment will be echoed by the dairy sector who have been working extremely hard to improve compliance rates, with a record 91 per cent achieved this year."
Mr Grant said the case was a reminder that the consent holder had ultimate responsibility for what happened on the farm and needed to ensure staff knew and understood those consent conditions and adhered to them.
"This is a good time of year for consent holders to familiarise themselves and staff with their consents," Mr Grant said.
If anything was unclear, they should contact Horizons "as we are more than happy to help".
Woods was convicted on six charges of illegally discharging effluent to land where it may enter a waterway, plus one charge of deceiving a council enforcement officer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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