The Otago Fish and Game is expressing its pleasure in Tuesday’s sentencing of Northlake Investments Ltd in Queenstown District Court for a large sediment discharge in August 2017. Otago Regional Council (ORC) successfully prosecuted Northlake Investments for that offence, which was generated by earthworks in the course of a subdivision development and resulted in extensive discolouration in the Clutha River/Mata-Au for more than 500m downstream. The development company was convicted and ordered to pay $42,500 to ORC.
Otago Fish and Game spokesperson Nigel Pacey said, “The organisation fully supported the prosecution, and the outcome was a firm signal to all developers and contractors that the environment must be protected and detrimental effects managed more effectively when development occurs.”
Pacey added, “It’s great to see the ORC not taking a back seat and being proactive in dealing with all sectors of society that degrade water quality. Time and time again, rural landowners have [bore] the brunt of criticism for the quality of our water, so it’s good to see other water polluters held to the same high standard.”
ORC chief executive Sarah Gardner said Tuesday’s sentencing highlighted the importance of improved environmental management during development and the need during times of rapid growth for developers and contractors to adopt best practices.
“It’s time to ensure activity in Otago complies with consent conditions designed to prevent environmental degradation and, when it doesn’t, the appropriate action is taken by the regional council to protect our vital water resources,” said Pacey.
“This case is not the only occasion that substantial silt laden stormwater has flowed into the Clutha River/Matua-Au and other pristine waterways,” Upper Clutha Lakes Trust (UCLT) secretary Julie Perry told the Wanaka Sun. “In place of enforcement and prosecution, UCLT believes there is a role for the community to foster broad collaboration between developers, Queenstown Lakes District Council and ORC to find effective solutions for managing land use intensification within our sensitive catchment.”
ORC also prosecuted Civil Construction Ltd for the August 2017 discharge offence; they were convicted and fined $25,500 in January.
Northlake Investments has since released a statement saying it will appeal this week’s conviction and fine.
“Our community places a high value on the natural environment and wants to ensure that there are no adverse impacts on the environment as a result of current or future construction activities,” said Perry.