Two land owning companies, a property development company and an earthworks contractor have been fined a total of $30,000 for illegal road works on New Chums Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.
New Chums Beach (Wainuiototo Bay) is north-west of Whangapoua Beach, approximately 15km north-east of Coromandel. The two land owning companies – Pistoia Ltd, Wainuiototo Bay Property Co Ltd and the property development company, Pungapunga Developments Ltd – were fined a total of $18,000 ($6000 each) for road works done without a resource consent across regenerating bush, and stream crossings.
The earthworks contractor, Whitianga Excavators Ltd, was fined $12,000. The Court ordered that 90 percent of all fines are to be paid to Environment Waikato.
In November 2000, Environment Waikato received complaints about machinery working near New Chums Beach. The roading work had resulted in sediment being discharged directly into the stream and soil was left around crossings or pushed over the edges of the road, leaving it likely to be washed into the stream.
In sentencing the defendants, Judge C.J. Thompson said: “… despite its difficulties and cost the resource management process is important, and there should be a clear public message that people who do not comply with it can expect, if found out, to be charged, and that convictions and possibly penalties of some significance will follow”.
“The predominant purpose of sentencing in the area of Resource Management Act prosecutions is to attempt to send a message of deterrence to people who are minded to either deliberately breach the provisions of the Act or who perhaps do not, as I am inclined to think here, give sufficient thought to their responsibilities before undertaking work.
“The area immediately affected by the roading was regenerating native bush containing pockets of relatively mature native forest trees. It was located, in parts at least, on relatively steep and unstable hillsides, on a spectacularly beautiful coastline. It was carried out in an area that is prone to volatile weather, particularly to unpredictable and quite severe rain events.
“It is situated in the coastal zone and is an example of indigenous vegetation … [and] sequence of dune land to native forest which is now rare.
“The road that was constructed was significantly wider than what might be regarded as an average farm track.
“Some 4500 cubic metres of soil and under surface were excavated over the relevant area. There was a loss of manuka /kanuka nursery trees and other species.
“So far as the deliberateness of the offences are concerned, it has been acknowledged I think that what was done was deliberate in the sense that conscious choices were made to construct the roading in exactly the position it was constructed. It was not an accidental event.”