Times Media Group convicted for offensive odours
20 June 2003
The District Court has convicted Times Media Group and director Anthony Cook for discharging offensive odours, as a result of a prosecution brought against them by the Auckland Regional Council.
Times Media Group and Anthony Cook each pleaded guilty to a charge of discharging an “acrid, burnt, inky, woody, solvent odour” in November 2001, which residents near their Warkworth printing operations stated had caused them “breathing difficulties, headaches, sleep deprivation and mental stress”.
Judge McElrea concluded that the discharge represented “serious offending” which had caused “substantial” effects on residents.
In a new approach to this type of offending the Court had requested that the defendant, the ARC and community representatives undertake a restorative justice process, which involved a meeting of all parties, who essentially agreed to the following reparations:
- Publication of a public apology by Times Media Group in the Rodney Times.
- Native tree planting around the western boundary of the company site.
- A donation to Mahurangi College.
- Atmospheric dispersion modeling to confirm no future health risk.
- Decommissioning and removal of ineffective control equipment.
At sentencing the Judge took into account the restorative justice process, including the associated costs (approx $17,500) borne by the defendant and the fact that since 1997 the ARC has received 168 complaints relating to the discharge of contaminants into air, namely odour and visible emissions, and has issued 14 EINs, 4 Abatement Notices and an Interim Enforcement Order against Times Media Group. In addition further infringement notices were issued during the period over which the case was running. As a result, Times Media Group and Anthony Cook were fined $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, of which 90% were awarded to the ARC.
“We supported the restorative justice process because it involved the community and appeared to provide an excellent opportunity for the community’s concerns to be addressed to their satisfaction,” said ARC Rodney representative Brian Smith.
“The goal of the restorative justice process is to ‘right the wrongs’ done and to ensure that the offence does not happen again. Unfortunately, this does not appear to have been achieved fully as ARC is still receiving complaints,” said Cr Smith.