A dairy farming company and an earthworks company have each been convicted and fined for carrying out illegal earthworks in the Mangakaeo Stream, near Ōtorohanga.
The earthworks were over a kilometre in length and caused significant environmental damage to the stream in breach of the Resource Management Act.
The prosecution was brought by Waikato Regional Council following a site inspection in June 2017.
In passing sentence from the Hamilton District Court this week, Judge Melanie Harland fined Okawa Limited and Greener Earthmoving Limited $31,550 and $24,150 respectively.
Judge Harland stated that “a further warning to the farming and earthmoving industry should be signalled” and the “need for caution when excavating waterbodies has still not been fully appreciated”.
The council’s investigations manager, Patrick Lynch said: “On this occasion a farm owner has engaged a contractor to carry out maintenance work on his property. There are very clear restrictions around what work can be done in and around fresh water streams in the Waikato region. Both parties should have known better than to carry out these works under the pretence of cleaning farm drains. These are not drains, they are streams. Landowners and earthworks contractors need to appreciate the difference or risk facing similar penalties.
“We urge anyone who has doubts about what can and can’t be done around streams to contact us before they start work. We also offer training opportunities for earthworks contractors.”
A series of one day industry workshops are due to be held in July and August:
To find out more about the workshops, as well as to register online, visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/earthworks-erosion-and-sediment-control(external link).