Northland farm manager fined for effluent spills

A farm manager has been fined more than $28,000 for a series of offences relating to inadequate management of a Waipu farm effluent irrigation system.

Barry Ian McAuley had admitted six charges laid by the Northland Regional Council in relation to offending at the Nova Scotia Drive farm last year.

In notes released recently, District and Environment Court Judge J A Smith said three charges related to breach of abatement notices and three to discharges which occurred over two separate periods last year.

The first was from a split pipe in June and July and the other from a detached irrigation pipe in December.

Judge JA Smith said major ponding “would have been obvious to anyone from casual observation”.
Judge JA Smith said major ponding “would have been obvious to anyone from casual observation”. Photo credit: Supplied/Northland Regional Council

The judge described the offending as some of the more serious the court had seen, noting that since 2008 the NRC had issued McAuley with 14 infringement notices and eight abatement notices.

"It is thus remarkable that this is the first time you have come to the attention of the Court itself," he said.

Judge Smith said he understood that as well as acting as farm manager on the site involved, McAuley was also managing another nearby.

"It may be that you were diverted in your attention."

Evidential photos of some of the offending that led to the prosecution of Waipu farm manager Barry Ian McAuley.
Evidential photos of some of the offending that led to the prosecution of Waipu farm manager Barry Ian McAuley. Photo credit: Supplied/Northland Regional Council

The judge said the split around the pipe involved in some of the offending would have resulted in such major ponding around it and would have been obvious to anyone from casual observation.

Effluent had made its way through various farm drains and eventually into the Waipu River, but there was no evidence of long term adverse effect on the river.

Taking into account McAuley's remorse, financial circumstances and guilty pleas, the judge fined him a total of $28,500 with court costs of $130 and solicitor's fees of $113 on each charge.

The judge noted that McAuley - now operating the farm with his son - had halved the herd size and taken a responsible approach to effluent system improvements.

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