Recent poor compliance by dairy farmers in the region has dismayed Environment Southland Councillors and compliance staff.
Chairman Ali Timms said Councillors have had a gutsful of this level of non-compliance. “As a regulatory authority we work very hard at including all stakeholders when we develop our rules around effluent discharge,” Ms Timms said. “Farmers say they want fewer rules, but it’s evident that many can’t even comply with the current rules that are in place.”
“The message is just not getting through,” Ms Timms says, “and what simply appears to be poor or indifferent management practices are continuing to cause unacceptable environmental consequences.”
Compliance Manager Mark Hunter said that already in May compliance officers have found 24 incidences of significant non-compliance, compared with 34 for the whole month last year.
“It’s disappointing because the compliance numbers were improving on last year, but with the level of non-compliance found over the last few weeks this may not still be the case.”
Ms Timms said the industry is judged as a whole which makes it difficult for the good performers in dairying “who tell me they are sick and tired of being lumped in with the poor performers.”
While only a small part of a farmer’s yearly budget, many dairy farmers continue to set spending on effective effluent management as a low priority. This indicates that Southlands water quality is of no importance to them. “This sort of attitude leaves us with little option but to take a hard line that may well result in some very costly fines,” Ms Timms said. “These poor performers will then see that good environmental performance is of direct economic benefit to them.”
The Council will be taking a hard line-no excuses attitude towards these latest incidences. The message to the dairying industry is ‘we expect you to perform.’