A Hawke's Bay orchardist fined twice in four months for illegal spray drifts hitting cyclists says he wouldn't have planted trees had he known a cycle path was to be placed next to his orchard.
Johnny Appleseed Holdings Limited was fined $14,400 this week after a hazardous agrichemical hit a cyclist - the company's second prosecution in four months.
It's one of three Hawke's Bay companies fined a total of $37,840 this week for various breaches to the Resource Management Act 1991, in prosecutions brought by Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
A spray operator was spraying an orchard adjacent to Otene Rd, Waipatu, with a hazardous fungicide called BRAVO WeatherStik in September last year.
BRAVO WeatherStik is a watered-down version of chlorothalonil which, in its pure form, is banned in New Zealand.
The cyclist was struck on his skin, clothing and face, which caused discomfort for about 12 hours following the incident.
Johnny Appleseed director Paul Paynter said had he known a cycle path was to be built nearby, he wouldn't have planted trees in the orientation they have.
"It's a very challenging area with the cycle path as you essentially have to turn at the end of hundreds of rows, which means the momentum of the spray is inherently drifting towards the road," he said.
Paynter said "rigorous discussions" were undertaken with staff and policies and procedures were tweaked.
"We thought we'd put in place measures to make sure it didn't happen again but rapidly had another incident," he said.
"If and when we replant the orchard, we will replant it differently. The number of cases we want is zero – anything above that is unacceptable."
Paynter said of the 63 orchards the company own across Hawke's Bay, the Otene Rd site is the only one to cause issues.
The council's group manager policy & regulation, Katrina Brunton, said rules in the Regional Resource Management Plan require that use of sprays must be in accordance with the New Zealand Standard for the Management of Agrichemicals.
"As such, regardless of whether it is a cycle path, footpath or road or another property, spray should not be allowed to drift outside the target area on the property on which it is being used," Brunton said.
Also prosecuted this week was Clive orchardist Campbell Ritchie Agnew, who pleaded guilty to illegally burning plastic in September last year.
He lit a fire to clear a property for sale in the Hastings airshed which included rolls of polypropylene bird netting, which is prohibited to burn.
The fire produced thick black smoke in a rural residential area.
Judge Melinda Dickey fined Agnew $11,200.
Dickey said it was clear Agnew's actions were deliberate in the sense that he knew he was placing plastic onto the fire.
Daniel Sankey, owner of Greenleaf Nurseries in Clive, pleaded guilty to burning prohibited items at the property adjacent to several houses and next to Kohupatiki Marae in August 2020.
The fire consisted of green waste, but also contained prohibited items including plastic plant pots, polystyrene, plastic, coated wire, treated timber and composite timber boards.
He was fined $12,240.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council group manager policy and regulation Katrina Brunton says the community has sent strong signals to council that it values clean air and water.
"To uphold these values we, unfortunately, have to use the court to enforce the rules to protect the health of our environment and our community," she said.
The three sentences bring the total fines issued as a result of regional council action so far this year to $125,090.
If the public has information regarding unauthorised discharges to land, air or water, they should contact the HBRC's 24/7 Pollution Hotline on 0800 108 838.