Fine not appropriate penalty for water breach
Fine not appropriate penalty for breaches of water supply consent
The Environment Court today convicted the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) for breaching a resource consent for taking water from the Waikanae River on 29 April 2003.
This was one of 41 breaches during last summer’s water crisis. The judge imposed a suspended sentence on the KCDC, who pleaded guilty to the charges. The Greater Wellington Regional Council did not seek a financial penalty at today’s hearing. “A fine – at this stage – was not the appropriate penalty,” said Luci Ryan, Greater Wellington’s manager of resource consents.
“Greater Wellington does not want to penalise
Kapiti ratepayers for last years’ breaches of the resource
consent. What we want is the KCDC to find a solution to the
water supply problem so that breaches don’t happen in the
future.” The court granted Greater Wellington’s submissions
to the sentencing hearing that sought the conviction of the
KCDC for breaching the consent, and a suspended sentence.
If KCDC breaches the water use consents again within the
next 12 months the court can impose a financial penalty.
Luci Ryan said that a suspended sentence was both a
deterrent, and a signal that Greater Wellington took the
matter seriously. “Local authorities must be seen to comply
with the law, just as members of the public are expected to
comply. We wanted a penalty that sent a strong signal, and,
importantly, is a deterrent to future breaches. If the KCDC
is convicted again for breaching its consents this sentence
allows the full penalty to be applied.”