Friday, December 11, 2009

More on industrial dairying

Resource consent applications for five industrial dairy farms in the Mackenzie basin have attracted over 1500 submissions, some from as far away as Europe. People clearly have an opinion on this, and its a bad one. Its a pity then that Waitaki District Council has already granted land-use and irrigation consents to three farms without public notification. Perhaps they were afraid of what people might say?

That story also highlights the sort of people we're dealing with: one of New Zealand's dirtiest dairy farmers, with multiple convictions for dumping his cowshit in our rivers:

An Amberley farmer with plans to build controversial dairy farms in the Mackenzie Basin has one of the worst compliance records in Southland.

Cornelis Zeestraten, also known as Kees, is the director of Five Rivers Ltd, which wants to build seven dairy farms near Omarama, with plans to keep up to 7000 cows in cubicle stables 24 hours a day for up to eight months of the year.

Mr Zeestraten is also the director of Union Station Dairies Ltd, which owns a Tussock Creek (Central Southland) farm that was fined $25,000 by the Environment Court in August for unlawfully discharging dairy shed effluent to land.

The company was fined $5000 in 2004, and $15,000 in 2007, for similar offending.

Environment Southland compliance manager Mark Hunter said no other Southland dairy farm had been prosecuted three times.

Once convicted, a company was automatically prosecuted for further breaches, he said.

Environment Southland records show another company of which Mr Zeestraten is a former director, Southern Friesians, was also served with at least two abatement notices and an infringement notice while he was a director. His Pebbly Hills dairy farm was served with an abatement notice in 2004-05.

This man is clearly a serial polluter. And he's going to be setting up right next to some of our most pristine and sensitive waterways.

The one good point about the government's RMA reforms is that they allow consents to be cancelled in response to consistent non-compliance. But that's an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and we shouldn't have to wait for it to happen. Past non-compliance is apparently not taken into account in resource consent applications. It would be a very simple amendment to fix that, and protect our environment from this sort of environmental serial criminal.

Update: Bill here. Who's game?