The Regional Council is the sheriff when it comes to protecting our environment, with authority to issue infringement and abatement notices … and prosecute.
And HBRC has just issued its 2019-20 compliance report assessing consent holder behaviour and detailing the actions it has taken in that year against environmental scofflaws.
The Council enforces consent restrictions and conditions and the underlying policies. It monitors some 3,044 consents, the majority dealing with water use (64% of consents monitored) or discharges of effluent (13%). Stormwater and wastewater consents make up another 12%, with significant impact on our territorial councils.
Overall, 89.7% (2,731) of consent holders were fully compliant; only 1% (29) were in significant non-compliance. Fully 97% of water take consents were graded fully compliant.
Twelve prosecutions were initiated, compared to four the previous year. Two were completed in the year, both involving burning prohibited items including treated timber, plastic piping, etc – Santo Drainage & Contracting ($12,555 fine) and Hastings Demolition ($11,900 fine). Eighty-eight infringement notices were issued, totalling $42,200 in fines.
80% of the region’s 79 dairy farms achieved full compliance with their resource consents. Three dairy operations – R Moore Farms and Maxwell Farms (both Patoka) and Perthshire Farms (Waipukurau) – were found significantly non-compliant, with the Maxwell Farm prosecuted and pleading guilty.
One winery, Trinity Hill, was significantly non-compliant, not meeting discharge standards for wastewater discharged over the unconfined aquifer, and is currently under an abatement notice.
Complaints to the Pollution Hotline totaled 983, with most of these linked to air quality (resulting in 58 infringement notices for outdoor burning), as this graph indicates.
The air discharge consent held by Te Mata Mushrooms is being contested in the Environment Court; one infringement notice regarding odour was issued in the reporting period. Bio-Rich’s Waitangi location had enforcement action taken for odour during the drought, when it handled significantly more raw product from the animal processing industries. Hawke’s Bay Protein was also significantly non-compliant regarding odour emissions.
Forestry practices appear to have improved, with 96% of monitored consents and permitted activities achieving full compliance. However, the report cites timber treatment operators as the most non-compliant industrial activity, with only 48% compliant. Napier Pine (Omahu Road) and Central Timber Waipawa were cited as significantly non-compliant for contamination, but the report indicates both situations have been resolved.
Another major compliance problem seems to center around commercial and industrial effluent (only 33% fully compliant) or wastewater (58% fully compliant) discharges. Found significantly non-compliant were Ormlie Lodge, AFFCO (discharging into the Wairoa River) and KraftHEINZ (into the Ruahapia stream).
The four territorial authorities – with their ageing and historically under-funded infrastructures – all struggle with their ‘3 Waters’ consents, with only 52% of drinking water consents achieving full compliance. Upgrading bores is the major remedial activity across the councils. Stormwater systems are also in need of improvement across the region, but none are scored significantly non-compliant in this report.
In worst shape are the municipal wastewater systems – CHB and Wairoa systems are significantly non-compliant and have been for years. CHB is slowly progressing under Environment Court order, but faces enormous financial stress to get the job done after previous ineffective ‘solutions’. Wairoa is in the same predicament … it can’t afford First World wastewater treatment.
Napier has a non-compliance problem because of leaks in its outfall-to-sea pipe, and of course discharges into the Ahuriri Estuary during heavy rainfalls with increasing regularity. Hastings gets a pretty clear bill of health with regard to its wastewater (leaving aside whether discharge to sea is an acceptable 21st century solution for either Hastings or Napier).