Repeat offender: Taranaki farmer fined more than $95K for poor farming practices

By Contributor

A Taranaki stream was polluted with sediment and silt after farmer Colin Boyd diverted a waterway. Photo / Taranaki Regional Council

By Tara Shaskey, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Taranaki

A Taranaki farmer who is no stranger to the court has been fined more than $95,000 for his latest set of offending, which includes moving a stream on his property.

Colin Boyd was in New Plymouth District Court on Tuesday to hear the outcome to the charges he admitted in March this year.

Those charges, brought against him by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC), relate to discharging contaminants, a stream tributary reclamation, and breach of an abatement notice.

The offending took place between October and November 2019 when Boyd carried out a "significant amount" of earthworks in and around a section of the Mangatengehu Stream at his Surrey Rd, Inglewood, farm.

The work included Boyd diverting the stream in an effort to reclaim part of its bed.

As a result, there was a discharge of sediment into the stream due to the silt and sediment controls being inadequate.

It is not the first time Boyd has run into legal trouble for his farming practices.

He is the sole director of Mile Square Farms Limited, the company which has owned the 480ha dairy farm, also used for quarrying and land farming activities, for about 25 years.

In 2016, a jury found him guilty of diverting a stream through his property three years earlier.

He was fined $60,000, one of the largest fines imposed by the court for environmental matters in Taranaki at the time.

At the trial, Boyd claimed the diversion occurred naturally due to a flood but at his sentencing the judge said it had been a deliberate attempt to improve the quality of his farm.

Additionally, he was served with 17 abatement notices between 2009 and 2019, and six infringement notices.

Boyd's latest spate of offending came to light on October 27, 2019, when council officers responded to a complaint that the stream was discoloured.

Officers found a diversion channel had been constructed at the site, resulting in the reclamation of a 278m section of the stream.

The majority of the associated riparian vegetation had been removed and around 160m of the stream had been drained.

The diversion channel had intercepted the stream and directed both surface water and groundwater into an existing land drainage channel which then directed the flow back into the stream about 180m downstream at a neighbouring property.

Significant scour and erosion occurred as a result, and silt and sediment were flowing into the stream.

No silt and sediment control measures were in place.

Boyd was issued with two abatement notices; one requiring him to immediately cease all earthworks and the associated silt and sediment discharge, and another that ordered him to install the controls by November 3, 2019.

A reinspection of the site found that Boyd had installed controls within the channel of the diversion but they were insufficient to cope with a significant rainfall.

A further abatement notice was issued in relation to the controls, and further reinspections found him repeatedly in breach of the notices.

Significant erosion continued to occur within the channel and surrounding areas.

In court, Judge Melinda Dickey imposed a $17,000 fine for the breach of the abatement notice and a $78,750 for the remaining charges, 90 per cent of which is payable to the TRC.