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$4,500 fine for offence under RMA

$4,500 fine for ‘wilful and deliberate’ offence under RMA

A Titirangi man was given a severe warning in the Auckland District Court today for his persistence in building an “amateurish”, “unstable” and illegal structure on a Council road reserve and his own land.

Roy Fowler was given a deterrent penalty of $4,500 and ordered to pay costs by Judge McElrea for carrying out building work without consent in a slip-sensitive area in Woontens Lane

In sentencing Roy Fowler, Judge McElrea said that the concrete block structure erected by Mr Fowler was unstable and in danger of collapsing and tumbling down a steep bank on to a property below.

The Judge said Mr Fowler had previously received a “very clear warning” in the High Court about the illegal nature of his building work.

Despite numerous requests by Council officers, Mr Fowler persisted with the work, claiming he didn’t need consent for the work, that God was his authority.

He was convicted and fined in 1998 for a similar offence - excavation and building at his property without consent – after which the matter went to the High Court where the penalty was increased. That conviction was taken into account by the Judge in today's sentencing. Judge McElrea noted that there was a need for a deterrent penalty.

In July this year, Mr Fowler was convicted of four offences*. The Court imposed an enforcement order requiring removal of the structure and stabilisation works, based on geotechnical advice that the land under and around the structure was unstable and at risk of collapse.

Mr Fowler did not comply with the enforcement order and the Council carried out the work at a cost of almost $20,000, for which it has invoiced Mr Fowler.

The $4,500 fine was imposed for only one of the charges (building on a stability-sensitive area) and the Judge said that if he re-offends within the next year, a fine of about $10,000 would be imposed for the other three charges.

He told Mr Fowler if he were “not such an old person” he would be looking at the possibility of imprisonment.

Chair of Waitakere City’s Planning and Regulatory Committee Vanessa Neeson said that Mr Fowler’s earthworks and excavations undermined the support for the road reserve. “I hope he has learned his lesson this time,” she said

*An offence under the Building Act 1991 and the contravention of four District Plan Rules being an offence under the Resource Management Act 1991.

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