IT’S just a joke, says North Waikato farmer Bill Cox in response to a $900 fine imposed on him for obstructing two Environment Waikato officers investigating a complaint.
Mr Cox’s brother Don was fined $500 and the pair were ordered to pay $452 in legal costs at the Hamilton District court recently.
The council officers and and two police offers turned up at the Cox property in May 2001 to check on a report of illegal spreading of effluent on a tanker track.
“They were worried about effluent getting into water courses, which is why I confined the spreading to the tanker track,” Mr Cox says.
He says he denied access to the officers because they wouldn’t sign his OSH book.
He also says the effluent spreading was within the framework of his resource consent.
“These guys haven’t been through safety courses and they don’t respect personal safety policy.
“Everyone else rings up and makes an appointment, but these bureaucrats think they can just march on to your property. Farmers are sick of it.
“They say I am belligerent, but if they went down to my cowshed without my consent and were electrocuted, who is belligerent then?”
Despite losing the case, Mr Cox says the issue has now gone to Parliament, because people are not legally required to sign on entry to business premises.
He points to the 1994 death of beekeeper Ken Richards, as a result of a bridge collapse on Keith and Margaret Berryman’s King Country property, as a case where an OSH book could have saved the farmer plenty of unnecessary heartache.
“At some point there will be major injuries in the rural sector, because these council guys aren’t trained.
“It’s not a question of if, but when.”
Environment Waikato Resource Use manager Chris McLay says the council took a serious view of “unwanted and aggressive behaviour towards its staff”.
The council sought the maximum penalty of $1500 and an order for Mr Cox to do an anger management course, which he says he is not going to do.
The case has cost Mr Cox $18,000 and is one of many between the regional council and himself.
He says he and his lawyer have reason to consider taking legal action against the council soon.