A dairy farmer who consistently caused issues for inspectors trying to access his property has copped a big fine for allowing effluent to enter a waterway and keeping silage too close to water.
But the farmer, described as engaging in “aggressive non-cooperation» with authorities, has said he would not pay a fine.
Derek Aaron Berendt and his company Huka View Dairies were collectively fined $103,500 when sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court in December for breaching the Resource Management Act.
Berendt owns a 50 per cent share of, and is a director and the manager of, Huka View.
According to sentencing notes published in January, the company and Berendt faced the same four charges, related to the management of silage and effluent on the farm on Kākāriki Road, Eketāhuna.
About 300 cows are milked on the farm, which had consents for discharging effluent and storing silage refuse.
However, effluent could not be allowed to enter surface water or encroach within 20 metres of watercourses. The silage refuse had similar rules.
Horizons Regional Council officers found a myriad of issues when visiting Huka View multiple times between October 2017 and 2018.
Silage refuse was once found two metres from a flowing stream and was still there a year later, despite Berendt being told to move it.
Effluent flowed overland and 150 metres along a dry tributary on one visit, while it was seen going into a tributary of the Hukunui Stream – which flows into the Mangatainoka River which, in turn, flows in to the Manawatū River – another time.
Berendt was not helpful when officers either arrived or called to tell him they were going to do an inspection.
He once told them not to turn up unless they had police.
Another time he told them not to enter unless they undertook certain procedures because he was afraid of M.bovis contamination, but still refused them entry when they did the procedures.
Judge Bryan Dwyer said it was hard to draw any other conclusion other than Berendt knowing he had issues and actively trying to hinder inspections.
Samples of the tributary found elevated levels of E Coli, nitrogen and nitrates, creating a significant risk to the waterway and those it fed.
The Mangatainoka River was a trout spawning and fishing site, while it was also used for water supply, the judge said.
The pollution of waterways was a frustration to iwi and the wider community.
“The whole river zone is … an aquatic site of significance.”
A pre-sentence report writer recommended Berendt be sentenced to community work, but the judge said that was done because Berendt had refused to pay a fine.
The writer also noted Berendt had an attitude which could be “accurately be described as aggressive non-cooperation”, the judge said.