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Man jailed for five months for bush clearance

media statement Friday 31 October 03

Waitakere Man jailed for five months for repeated
illegal bush clearance and earthworks

In a New Zealand first, a Waitakere City man has been sent to jail for clearing protected native bush and undertaking earthworks, without resource consent and while subject to a court order to stop the work.

Andrew and Susan Borrett of 49 Sunnyvale Road Red Hills, were found guilty by a Jury for the second time since 1999, of charges related to clearing, large areas of native bush which had the highest level of protection possible under the Waitakere City District Plan – and for unauthorised earthworks. They were also found guilty of charges related to, breaches of Environment Court Enforcement orders.

Mr Borret was charged with undertaking the offences and Mrs Borrett with permitting the offences.

Environment Court Judge Fred McElrea this week jailed Andrew Borrett for 20 weeks, saying Mr Borrett needed to “experience the inside of prison to understand the full reality of his offending.”

The Judge also declined Mr Borrett the opportunity for home detention, partly on the basis that his home property was where the offending had taken pace.
It is believed to be the first time anyone has been jailed for this type of offence in New Zealand.

Mr Borrett had chosen trial by jury - and was found guilty on five out of seven charges. His wife Susan was found guilty on four out of seven charges.

Judge McElrea imposed fines and costs on the couple amounting to $17,500.

In 1999, the Borretts pleaded guilty to similar charges involving large scale bush clearance and earth works. On that occasion fines and costs totalling $18,000 were imposed on them.

On the most recent occasion the work included the widening of a road through an area of significant native vegetation about 150 metres in length

On both occasions the Borretts had been subject to an interim enforcement order, imposed by the Environment Court, to prevent further illegal bush clearance and earthworks.

Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of Waitakere City Council’s Environmental Management Committee said that she hoped the sentences would have a salutary effect on people thinking of breaching the Resource Management Act.

“The Environment Court has been sending increasingly strong signals that it intends to deter this sort of environmental vandalism and frankly, while it shouldn’t be necessary to send people to jail, Mr Borrett has only himself to blame.

“I sincerely hope he will be the first and last person to be jailed because other people realise it’s just not worth the risk to wilfully and illegally damage the environment,” she says.

Prepared by Dai Bindoff for Councillor Hulse. Robert Enright legal adviser

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