Focus on high priority areas during challenging year
Positive attitudes towards the value of environmental compliance are being seen on the ground, despite events of 2020 making the routine monitoring programme more challenging.
The 2019-20 Compliance Monitoring Report was presented to Council this week, summarising the activities of Environment Southland’s compliance monitoring, enforcement and technical teams. While the restrictions of this year make it difficult to compare statistics to previous years, a pilot survey of dairy consent holders reinforced the feeling that dairy farmers see the value of environmental compliance.
Compliance manager Simon Mapp said the February flooding and COVID 19 had a significant impact on the team’s ability to go on-farm to inspect properties, but to manage this they utilised more aerial inspections and completed 634 on-site and aerial dairy shed effluent discharge consent inspections.
“Due to the restrictions in place for a good portion this year, we have not completed as many inspections as normal, but have prioritised our staff and focused our attention on the areas of highest priority.”
Mr Mapp said one of the pleasing results of this year was the outcome of a pilot survey of dairy farmers conducted by the compliance division, in which over 90% of respondents reported they consider environmental compliance is important to the region and 80% consider it is important to the industry. Nine out of 10 respondents see themselves as proactive when it comes to compliance with their dairy discharge consent and compliance behaviour.
“The fact our dairy farmers are showing a strong desire to comply bodes well for the future and we will continue to build on this. We are seeing this reflected in our work with farmers and want to continue in this positive direction.”
Although reports of pollution incidents continued to grow, with a slight increase in the 2019/20 year, there were significantly more incidents assessed as low priority than in the previous year – these include things like odour and removal of rubbish from waterways, which have a lesser impact on human health or the environment.
Regulatory Committee chairman Neville Cook says continuing the existing compliance approach, which is based on the 4E’s (Enable, Encourage, Educate and Enforce), remains an essential part of improving compliance within all sectors.
“It’s good to see that the importance of compliance is recognised within the dairy industry and we want to ensure all industries are conscious of their responsibilities and are doing what they need to about it.”
Councillor Cook said there are some big challenges ahead with changes signalled by the Government and new regulations coming into play, which will put increasing pressure on compliance, monitoring and enforcement requirements over the next year.
“Our view is that a balanced use of the 4E’s model is the best approach to achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance across all sectors, but everyone needs to play their part.”
You can read the full report and summary here.