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A Canterbury farm company has been fined $9,500 for extracting groundwater for irrigation when it was not allowed on a Flaxmere, Ashburton property in October and November 2010.
Cambria Farms Limited extracted ground water on two separate occasions for irrigation purposes from bores located on their farm while irrigation consent restrictions were in place.
In sentencing Cambria Farms, Judge Jon Jackson said that company directors knew how to check Canterbury Regional Council’s estimate of the flow in the Hinds River and that they omitted to do so.
Judge Jackson noted that water was extracted while the river was on full restriction on one day in October 2010. Water was also extracted while the river was on partial restriction on six occasions in October and November 2010 at rates exceeding 15 litres per second, which did not comply with the terms of their resource consent.
It was accepted by the Canterbury Regional Council that the defendant did not irrigate knowing that the river was on restriction, and while there was a level of negligence or carelessness it was not tantamount to gross negligence or wilfulness Judge Jackson said.
It was noted by Judge Jackson that mitigating factors included the immediate co-operation with the Regional Council by stopping irrigation and that he gives them credit for that and he also acknowledged the remorse by the company and its directors.
Environment Canterbury Regional Manager RMA Monitoring and Compliance Brett Aldridge said that it is important that all consent holders know the details of the conditions on their resource consents.
“It is a timely reminder to those consents holders needing water for irrigation purposes that you must understand your consent conditions, and how to get access to the information to ensure compliance, before you take groundwater. The easiest way to do this is via the Environment Canterbury website, or by contacting a resource management officer who will be able to provide specific advice.
“Our monitoring systems and restrictions, are in place so that our resources continue to be used sustainably and are not adversely affected,” he said.