Banks Peninsula subdivision: environmental fines
Banks Peninsula subdivision: fines for environmental damage
A warning to developers that they cannot blame contractors for ignoring environmental law was issued in the Christchurch District Court by Environment Court Judge Jeff Smith recently.
The developer, the contracting company and the engineer involved in an Akaroa bay subdivision will have to pay close to $80,000 for deficient subdivision practices leading to significant harbour pollution. All parties had pleaded guilty to the charges.
Tonnes of clay and soil poured into Takamatua Bay from the subdivision creating a plume of yellow sediment-laden water midway to the headland to the north after heavy rain in October, 2006.
Environment Canterbury staff visited the Kingfisher Point subdivision from October to December that year as a result of complaints from residents. Mitigation measures proved largely unsuccessful.
ECan RMA enforcement manager Vikki Wilmore said the exercise had been significant in terms of community cooperation. “They were our eyes, ears and photographers on site, and we followed up with numerous site visits and formal enforcement action. In rural and urban areas, the community is much more aware of environmental vandalism and will report incidents to ECan’s Pollution Hotline. It is good to see the residents group getting something back to mitigate the damage and recognise the role they played.”
Takamatua West Ltd have to pay $42,000 in total - a $10,000 fine for the illegal harbour discharge, $10,000 to the Takamatua Residents and Ratepayers Association, $2000 costs to Environment Canterbury and $20,000 for failing to take action when served with an abatement notice from ECan.
“I am not prepared to accept that it is possible for companies to escape those liabilities by blaming contractors. The abatement notice was served upon Takamatua; Takamatua was obliged to comply with it,” said Judge Smith.
The directors of Takamatua West Ltd at the time were Charles and Tom Kain and Justin Prain, described by Judge Smith as “experienced developers.”
Andrew Tisch, of E2 Solutions Ltd, the on-site engineer charged with implementing the site’s sediment control plan, was discharged without conviction but ordered to pay the Takamatua Residents and Ratepayers Association $10,000 and costs of $6000 to Environment Canterbury.
Calcon Ltd, the on-site contractor, was fined $10,000, ordered to pay the residents and ratepayers group $6,000 and $2,000 to Environment Canterbury.
In deciding to order costs for the residents group, Judge Smith noted: “Given that the effect of these sediments has impacted upon Takamatua Bay, not only the gullies, I am minded to consider some form of direct remedy for the environment as a result of the proceedings.”