Environment Southland is calling on the Government to amend the Land Transport Act to make it a specific offence for stock trucks to leak effluent onto roads.
Chairman Ali Timms said she was frustrated that people expected Environment Southland to resolve a problem that it had no power to fix. If the Council finds a truck discharging effluent in circumstances where it could reach water, then its compliance staff can issue a $750 infringement notice. But it could not take action in most of the cases that have occurred on the region’s roads in the last couple of weeks.
Dairy NZ had put considerable effort into reminding farmers of the need to stand their stock off green feed before transport, so it was disappointing that many individual farmers had apparently chosen not to follow that advice, she said.
With the farmer’s permission, stock trucks can discharge effluent from their holding tanks into farm dairy effluent ponds. It is also a permitted activity under the Regional Effluent Plan for trucks to discharge their effluent tanks onto farmland when they arrive at a property, as long as the discharge cannot reach a waterway. And there is a network of temporary effluent dump stations around Southland that trucking firms are able to use to empty their tanks if necessary at this time of the year.
The trucking industry also had to take responsibility and tell drivers to demand to see the written declaration that farmers had stood their stock before transport. “It’s clear that the trucking firms continue to pick-up cows that are full of it because if they don't then their competition does,” Ms Timms said. “It’s a really bad look for the dairy industry to have effluent slicks all over Southland roads – it might be green but it ain't clean.”
Ms Timms said that the dairy and transport agencies should take collective responsibility for fixing this perennial problem, but Environment Southland would approach Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and ask him to initiate a law change that would make it a specific offence to discharge effluent from stock trucks onto a road.