A tale of two treatments

January 23, 2015

There’s the treatment of a council:

. . .The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council’s new wastewater plants have failed to meet the conditions of a new resource consent six times since it came into force in October.

The regional council’s chief executive Liz Lambert said it was drawing up an abatement notice, but her council did not think punishing the district council was appropriate.

“We believe that any financial punishment really doesn’t help the ratepayer.

“We’d rather see the money go towards the right outcome.” . . .

Well yes, but would farmers get the same treatment?

The Environment Court’s decision to fine Okoroire sharemilker Bas Nelis has caused disappointment all-round.

On Friday, Nelis’ company Hold the Gold was fined $16,875 under the Resource Management Act for unlawful use of land and disturbing the riverbed.

The Waikato Regional Council, which prosecuted the company, and Judge Melanie Harland, who delivered the sentence, are facing a backlash.

The main point of contention is the infringements happened while Nelis was clearing a gully of noxious plants to replant it with natives – an activity the council actively encourages.

Nelis is well-known for his environmental and riparian planting work and, in 2008, won an Farm Environment Award in the Dairy Industry Awards.

Harland acknowledged this in her decision, but also said Nelis should have known better, given his history of environmental work. . .

This is two different councils with two very different ways of treating infringements.

Letting wastewater enter a waterway is much worse than disturbing a riverbed while clearing noxious plants to replace with natives.

But the district council has been treated leniently in Hawkes Bay and the Waikato farmer has not.


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