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Wairoa District Council urged to pursue 'vandals'


Wairoa District Council urged to pursue 'vandals'

Forest and Bird is urging the Wairoa District Council to take action against landowners who destroyed large areas of native forest by aerially spraying in breach of the District Plan and the Resource Management Act.

Photos released by the Department of Conservation under the Official Information Act show the destruction of forest totaling more than 700 hectares. The areas had been recommended for protection in a Protected Natural Areas Report that identifies the best examples of natural ecosystems remaining in the district.

Wairoa District Council chief executive Peter Freeman was reported today saying the damage was 'horrifying' but that the Council would probably not prosecute the offenders.

"Forest and Bird agrees with the Wairoa District Council's criticism of the damage - it is horrifying," Forest and Bird's environmental lawyer Kate Mitcalfe said. "But what are they going to do about it?"

"All of the areas appear to have been cleared without a resource consent, as required by the Wairoa District Plan. The Council must take action or its District Plan will be meaningless," Ms Mitcalfe said.

NOTE: OPTIONS FOR COUNCIL

The Wairoa District Council has three options that it can use to address the illegal destruction of native forest in the district.

Infringement notice

A notice from the council for a minor offence (fines can range from $300 to $1000). Section 343C of the RMA

Enforcement order

An order by the Environment Court to require someone to remedy or mitigate an adverse effect on the environment that they have caused. Sections 314-321 of the RMA

Prosecution

There is a range of offences outlined in section 338 of the RMA. Penalties include fines up to $200,000, or up to two years imprisonment.


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