Friday, October 14, 2011

Still dirty

TheTimaru Herald reports that a third of South Canterbury dairy farms are still not complying with effluent restrictions, and 10% of them are in serious non-compliance. That's slightly better than last year, but its still not good enough, and to their credit even Federated Farmers acknowledges this. The question is what Environment Canterbury is going to do about it. Despite the drop this year, its clear that a significant portion of farmers are still running dirty operations and externalising their costs onto the public. ECan's strategy of giving practical advice to those not in compliance isn't producing the desired change quickly enough.

Fortunately, they have options. The RMA allows regional authorities to issue abatement notices to consent-holders and prosecute them for non-compliance. The penalty is $600,000, plus $10,000 per day, plus the potential review or cancellation of consents. That's nothing to an international shipping company, but enough to make a dairy farmer take notice. The question we should be asking is why ECan are not using these tools to enforce the law. Are they soft on pollution, or simply lazy?