Farmer in court

Last updated 13:00 24/01/2014

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A farmer with a history of environmental offences appeared in the Environment Court in Blenheim again yesterday.

Phillip Woolley was brought in front of Judge Jon Jackson as the Marlborough District Council made an application for enforcement orders relating to effluent storage and disposal at his Upper Wairau Valley farm.

The council considers Mr Woolley's effluent management and disposal systems at the dairy farm, Glenmae, to be unacceptable, saying they do not meet the terms of the resource consents issued for them.

Acting for the council, lawyer Peter Radich said Mr Woolley had built two effluent ponds himself, and had not gained certification from an engineer to certify they were up to standard, as required by the council issued consent.

Council believed the ponds were leaking and wanted them to be brought up to standard.

During cross-examination yesterday, Mr Woolley said he had not fully read any of the resource consents from the council regarding the effluent ponds.

"I just assumed that what I had put in [resource consent application] they accepted so I went and did it," he said.

He confirmed that he did not have any input from an engineer after gaining the consent before building the ponds.

Mr Woolley originally had consent for five ponds in 2008, and built one in 2009, before deciding he only needed two ponds and re-applying for consent for the second pond.

Council believes the ponds could be leaking because they have no records since February 2013 of notification by Mr Woolley that he was going to be discharging the waste to land via irrigation systems.

The ponds were not capable of containing all the effluent generated since that notification, they argued.

Council argued that this either meant Mr Woolley was breaching requirements to notify them of such irrigation, or the ponds were leaking in order to continue taking on effluent.

Mr Woolley thought it was only necessary to notify council if he was discharging effluent through a pivoting irrigator, not a travelling one, as he used.

He was not sure if his farm manager had discharged effluent through an irrigation system in the past 11 months.

Mr Woolley was "quite happy" with the first pond, and believed it was not leaking and if it was it was only leaking an "extremely minor" amount. He had offered to have the second pond lined. He declined to get them assessed by an engineer.

"I'm not going to go down that track if council are going to question the engineer's findings . . . if you don't believe them you won't approve it," he said.

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Final submissions were to be made in writing. Records of irrigation of effluent at Glenmae were also to be provided. The decision regarding what was to happen to the ponds would be reserved until after the submissions were received.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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