Dr Selva Selvarajah
Stock truck effluent spills on to public roads remain a
problem throughout the South, but a recent ruling against
Environment Southland's actions in using police to pull over
stock trucks for checking might not affect how the Otago
Regional Council deals with the issue.
Otago Regional Council director of resource management Selva
Selvarajah said the problem was "really bad" in Otago.
"It's a widespread regional problem. We have six sites on
State Highway 1 that some trucks aren't using. Central Otago
is one of the worst affected areas."
Dr Selvarajah said the transportation of large numbers of
dairy cows from Southland to areas such as Upper Clutha and
Hawea for wintering was also affecting roads, as there were
no effluent collection points after Raes Junction.
Stock effluent spillages on to Otago roads had increased
during the winter feeding and grazing period, leading to
increased concerns about the health and safety hazard for
pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and road workers as well
as risks to drivers from obscured vision and slippery road
Last year, in a joint operation with Environment Southland,
police stopped stock trucks and checked for effluent
discharge before and on Gypsy Day, when thousands of cows
were being transported for wintering.
In a statement released last week, Environment Southland
chief executive Rob Phillips said the council would
reconsider its use of the Resource Management Act in its
approach to stock trucks discharging effluent on to roads.
The move follows a judge's decision to award costs against
the council on a case heard last month.
Judge Jeff Smith ruled that the council must pay $5000
towards the legal costs incurred by Euan Shearing Contracting
Ltd in preparing its defence relating to an alleged discharge
of effluent from a stock truck on May 31 last year. The
council had issued a $750 infringement notice against the
shearing company, which took the matter to court.
Environment Southland withdrew the prosecution and the
company sought costs.
In his ruling, Judge Smith noted that the case was "novel" in
that it sought to prove the principle that a discharge of
effluent from a vehicle could constitute an offence under the
Resource Management Act.
Asked if the decision against Environment Southland affected
the Otago Regional Council, Dr Selvarajah said the council
had considered a similar approach.
"We did consider that approach for the oncoming season ... we
have our multiparty strategy and will consider whether
enforcement action will have to be taken during the oncoming
Early last month, the regional council convened a meeting of
those involved in the movement of stock, including police,
the New Zealand Transport Agency and Federated Farmers, to
discuss how to reduce the hazard caused on roads by stock
truck effluent spills.
Dr Selvarajah said the council would encourage farmers to
manage stock in a way that reduced effluent on trucks,
working with transport groups to ensure sufficient collection
He said the "multiparty" would consider what actions to take
in order to combat the problem, and planned to meet sometime
in the next six weeks.