Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Regional Council Prosecutes Itself Over Stream Degradation

Unusual proceedings in the Wellington District Court today saw the regional council prosecuting itself.

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) was convicted and fined $90,000 for several breaches of the Resource Management Act (RMA) in what Justice Dwyer called “careless” actions that caused significant damage to the Birchville Stream in Upper Hutt.

In September 2019, work undertaken by GWRC on the decommissioned Birchville Dam resulted in the discharge of vast quantities of silt and sediment into the stream, which flows directly into the prized Hutt River trout fishery.

Birchville Stream is also a known spawning tributary, and as such is protected under the RMA.

Residents and local anglers contacted Wellington Fish & Game to report the incident which killed scores of trout and native fish.

Conducting a site visit in the aftermath, Fish & Game field staff discovered around 500m of the entire bed of the Birchville Stream was smothered in a grey sludge.

“The stream was decimated,” says Wellington Fish & Game manager Phil Teal.

“Although small scale, it’s possibly one the worst localised acts of environmental degradation we’ve witnessed for some time.

“Not only had trout, eels and bullies evidently been killed in the flush, but the thick layer of sludge left in the stream would have killed all the aquatic insects, essentially destroying the entire ecology of the stream.”

Fish & Game immediately alerted GWRC’s environment staff to the incident, and it was later discovered that the regional council was behind the damage.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

It could take years for the Birchville Stream to recover, made worse by the fact that the dam reduces natural flushing flows to wash the sediment out.

Mr Teal acknowledges GWRC for promptly taking responsibility, however, he says the regional council does not appear to have learnt from their mistake.

“Despite the ruling today, the sad aspect is GWRC has applied for a resource consent for ongoing maintenance works on the Birchville Dam which could involve more flushing events.

“If GWRC was a good environmental custodian, as the community expects it to be, it would consider options to remove the dam and allowing Birchville Stream to revert to its natural state for the benefit of trout and native aquatic species.

“Instead they’re applying for a resource consent to continue the activity under a legal guise.”

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Gordon Campbell: On The Newshub/Smokefree Twin Fiascos


Here’s a tale of two sunset industries. One has a track record of quality investigative reporting, and sound reportage of the 24/7 news cycle. The other sunset industry peddles a deadly substance that kills and injures tens of thousands of New Zealanders every year, while imposing significant annual costs on the public health system.

Which industry is this government rushing to assist..?
More


 
 


ACT: New Zealand Dodges Dopey Experiment In Prohibition

“Labour’s attempted crackdown on smokers would have delivered criminal groups a near-monopoly over the cigarette trade,” says ACT Health spokesman Todd Stephenson... More


Government: Backs Police To Crackdown On Gangs
The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell. “Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase... More


Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.