Dairy farmer wins consent over effluent

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014
timaru twizel milking sheds
SUE FRANCIS/Fairfax NZ
ALL GO: One of two milking sheds on the 1100ha milking platform at Twizel Dairies. The land is irrigated from the Ohau River through the Benmore Irrigation Scheme.

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A Twizel dairy farmer has won his Environment Court battle to run a 2000-cow operation near Lake Ruataniwha.

In a memorandum issued this week, Judge Jon Jackson granted Doug McIntyre an effluent consent for the operation.

Mr McIntyre received approval from an Environment Canterbury-appointed independent panel for a 10-year consent for effluent discharge for the dairy operation, but state-owned generator Meridian Energy appealed against the consent. Mr McIntyre said yesterday he was "relieved, rather than delighted" that the matter was settled.

"I still had to bow to Meridian's demands. I'm disappointed they didn't accept the original decision [of the hearings panel]. My farm only amounts to a tiny fraction of the catchment."

Mr McIntyre said he had spent more than $100,000 on the consent and appeals process.

"It's business as usual, at least until the next water rights renewal comes up."

The amended conditions include monthly water quality monitoring of the Wairepo Arm catchment.

The farm would have to reduce its nitrate loading if the water quality continued to decline.

Central South Island Fish and Game joined Meridian's appeal, and agreed to the revised effluent consent order being signed off.

However, CSI Fish and Game chief executive Jay Graybill said the effluent consent was "only a tiny part of the operation".

"It's being assessed in isolation from the other parts of the operation. In itself, this consent is not leading to a significant decline in the water quality of the catchment. The greater issue of declining water quality [as a result of the operation] will need to be debated once the other consents come up for renewal."

The original ECan-appointed hearings panel's decision said the dairy farm was a "well-run operation" but there appeared "to be little doubt" that it had affected the water quality within Kellands Pond. However, the panel granted the effluent discharge consent because the effects of the discharge, "compared with the effects from the farm in general", were "likely to be small".

Meridian's appeal, lodged late last year, expressed concern that the catchment did not have the capacity to "absorb the impact of additional contaminants".

Meridian spokeswoman Michelle Brooker said the company was "satisfied" with the amended conditions.

The farm has been operating since 2004 and is irrigated using water from the Benmore Irrigation Company's scheme. Its consent allows it to farm up to 2150 cows on the property.

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- The Timaru Herald

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