Key Points:

A big family-owned dairy farm that blamed a sharemilker for a stream of effluent flowing across its Reporoa property has had its appeal against a $35,000 fine turned down by the High Court.

Justice Lyn Stevens said in his judgment that the penalty imposed on the Crafar family-owned Plateau Farms in the Rotorua District Court was entirely appropriate, given the scale of the illegal effluent management during 2004-05.

Waikato Regional Council said yesterday that Justice Stevens found that a thick stream of effluent running into a neighbouring property because of an overflowing storage sump, and poor irrigation practices, led to substantial ponding of effluent and large amounts of thick effluent sludge sitting on paddocks.

Plateau Farms argued that the $35,000 fine was excessive but Justice Stevens said the case concerned "commercial environmental pollution by conduct involving negligence of a high order".

He also pointed out that the maximum fine for the offence and its continuation over nearly a month was $490,000.

Reporoa brothers Allan and Frank Crafar and Allan Crafar's wife, Beth, milk about 9000 dairy cows, with the help of seven sharemilkers.