NZ Farmer - Environment Canterbury compliance results show dairy farm improvement around Timaru

No prosecutions for resource consent breaches were issued in the Timaru District in the 2016/2017 financial year, as the proportion of resource consents judged compliant improved, according to Environment Canterbury (ECan).

The regional council doled out 49 abatement notices in the year, compared with 24 the previous year. However no formal warnings were issued, whereas there were 14 given in 2015/2016. Twelve infringement notices, requiring the payment of a fee, were issued, compared with 10 the previous year.

ECan said more residents were abiding by the terms of their resource consents in the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) region, with improvements in regard to water use consents, industrial discharge and effluent discharge from farms.

Eighty-three per cent of all resource consents in the area were judged compliant, compared with about 77 per cent the previous year. Of 160 dairy effluent consents, 15.6 per cent had "compliance issues", an improvement on 24 per cent in 2015/2016. 

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Mark Adams said the improved result was due to "the fruits of education".

"It's a good number." 

The fact there were no prosecutions this year showed ECan was working "earnestly" with farmers to ensure they met the terms of their consents. 

"[They are] working to educate farmers to lift their game." 

However farmers who were not making a real effort to improve would not stay in ECan's good graces for very long, Adams said. 

Prosecutions can only be brought by ECan for significant breaches of the Resource Management Act.

Dairy effluent discharge made up 20 per cent of the consents, with human effluent 4 per cent, and industrial discharge 9 per cent. Coastal consents made up 2 per cent of the total. 

The remaining consents were for water takes, with 90.9 per cent of them found to be compliant, against 82.6 per cent last year.

There were 98 instances of "advice and education" being given to consent-holders. 

 A breakdown has been sought from ECan on which sectors the abatement and infringement notices related to. 

Activities being monitored across the region included bedworks in rivers or lakes, damming surface water, depositing material, discharge to air, discharge to land or water, diverting surface water, earthworks, installing a structure, taking groundwater and taking surface water. 

Only 9 per cent of industrial discharge was non-compliant this year, compared with more than 16 per cent the previous year. 

Forest and Bird field officer Fraser Ross said the improvement in the overall number of consents being adhered to was good. However the intensification of farming still needed to be addressed. 

It had been a "very difficult" year with a lot of rainfall, Ross said. 

"If that improvement is there that's good, but we still need to make more improvements." 

ECan councillor Peter Scott could not be reached for comment before publication. 

Seven of the industrial discharge consents had compliance issues, with 68 being judged compliant. 

All of the coastal consents were compliant, with one having had compliance issues last year, while 49 of the "land use" consents were judged compliant, with only two failing the inspection.

During 2016/17 there were more than 4000 resource management incidents across the wider Canterbury region, with more than half of them relating to discharge into the air. 

In the Upper Waitaki region, 11 per cent of resource consents were non-compliant, with most non-compliant consents relating to water use.

Only one abatement notice was issued in the region this year.