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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.”

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