Otago farmers have not experienced the "horrific" scenario
alleged in Southland, of a compliance officer falsifying
documents to prosecute for a non-existent effluent breach,
Federated Farmers Otago president Stephen Korteweg says.
Mr Korteweg was asked to comment on an allegation that an
Environment Southland compliance officer altered a document
about effluent from a stock truck.
Mr Korteweg said anyone found to be guilty of such actions
should face hefty fines similar to those imposed on convicted
'Farmers can be fined more than $50,000 for effluent
wrong-doing," he said.
The allegation has led Environment Southland to order an
independent audit of its compliance division, which should be
completed by the end of the month.
Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms said the council was
confident chief executive Rob Phillips was dealing
effectively with the issues that had been raised.
"At this stage, we have a series of unproven allegations
about one area of the council's operation, which our chief
executive is investigating.
"We are confident that he is taking the right steps to
establish the facts and that he has brought in an appropriate
level of independent assistance.
"It would be completely wrong to pre-empt the results of
those investigations, and we want him to remain focused on
the issues that have been raised around compliance," Ms Timms
Mr Korteweg said although he was not aware of any such
allegations in Otago, effluent from stock trucks was a major
problem in the region.
He recently attended a meeting with police, Otago Regional
Council and New Zealand Transport Agency officials about
improving the situation.
Mr Korteweg said some Otago farmers did not take effluent
breaches seriously and Federated Farmers was working hard to
"build bridges" with the council.
"We are communicating a lot better than what we had been in
the past, but farmers need to play the game as well.
"All in all, we have a good working relationship and will try
to make it even better."
On October 17, the council approved a strategy to tackle the
growing hazard caused by stock effluent on roads.
Councillors indicated harsher penalties could be imposed if
farmers and truck drivers failed to take the strategy
seriously and effluent spill remained a problem.
"There's always room for improvement and that's what we are
working on, to get a better outcome for the community and
environment," Mr Korteweg said.