After hearing seven hours of submissions in the Tauranga District Court on Friday, Judge Robert Wolff decided to adjourn the sentencing of Armer Farms North Island Limited.
On May 31, Armer Farms North Island Limited, owned by Fonterra director Colin Armer, admitted to the Resource Management Act charge of unlawful discharge of dairy farm effluent in Maketu.
A split in an irrigation pipe allowed effluent to leak onto the farm.
The incident happened in October 2010 and the charge carries a fine of up to $600,000.
Armer Farms North Island Limited leased the Maketu farm off the Te Arawa Trust for 19 years.
The lease has since expired and the farm is now in the ownership of the Te Arawa Trust again.
However, at the time of the offending the farm was under the ownership of Armer Farms North Island Limited.
The farm is owned by Colin, who is one of 13 directors of the dairy giant Fonterra.
He says the pollution that triggered the prosecution came from a split pipe and lasted for a maximum of 24 hours.
Colin and his wife Dale, have extensive interests in dairy farms throughout New Zealand and own 60 per cent of Dairy Holdings, which oversees 58 farms and 44,000 cows in the South Island.
Colin is also a director of about 90 farming companies with about 450 staff across the group.
Colin was not on the farm when the offence occurred and says the manager of the Maketu farm had a good record for 12 years before the offence occurred.
It is the first prosecution of any of his companies in 30 years, says Colin.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council laid charges against the company after a complaint from property owner Jill Phare.
A pond at the end of Jill’s property became polluted from what she says was dairy effluent from the Maketu farm.
Jill was present in court on Friday to hear the submissions from both the prosecution and defence counsels.
After hearing from two expert ecologists and listening to both the prosecutions and defence’s arguments, Judge Robert Wolff decided to adjourn the sentencing and deliver his decision on Monday.
He says environmental offending is something not to be taken lightly and he wanted two days to go over the evidence presented to him before revealing his decision.