Farmer fined $20,000 for dirty dairying

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012

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A Taranaki farmer has been fined $20,000 for dirty dairying after failing to stop dairy farm effluent pouring from a pipe on his farm.

Ivan Cyril Jones admitted discharging effluent from a pipe between April 24 and May 4 on his Kaimata Rd farm despite earlier warnings from Taranaki Regional Council inspectors.

The two charges related to discharging effluent which may have resulted in contaminants entering groundwater, and discharging effluent which may have resulted in the effluent entering water in a farm drain.

In the Environment Court in New Plymouth this week, Jones' lawyer said Jones had dried off his herd of 70 and was trying to sell the cows at the time.

In the May incident, Jones had realised things had got out of hand but could not remedy the situation without significant cost.

He accepted what he did was wrong. He was no longer farming.

The court was told that on May 4 when two Taranaki Regional Council officers inspected the farm they found effluent coming from a pipe and ponding of the effluent adjacent to a farm drain. An irrigator was not connected.

The effluent had flowed from the pipe for about 35 metres.

In sentencing, Judge Brian Dwyer said Jones breached his resource consent which allowed him to spray effluent on to land. Inspectors measured the effluent pond, finding it was 180sqm wide and between 3cm and 20cm deep.

There was a high likelihood the effluent would have percolated into ground water where there was a shallow water table and into the farm's drain during rain.

While it was difficult if not impossible to quantify the effects on the environment, it was known that harmful nitrates persisted and could travel long distances and, along with other contaminants, were extremely harmful, the judge said.

The nearby Makara Stream flowed into the Manganui River which was highly valued for fishing and recreation.

The judge noted Jones' "sad personal circumstances" would have played a part in the offending. Jones was given a reduction of 25 per cent for his guilty plea and fined $10,000 on each charge.

Sentencing for Hawera farmer Alan Victor Mouland was postponed until January 29. Mouland was found guilty in October last year of illegally dumping waste on a gully in his farm in 2009. The court heard he was still to complete remedial work.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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