Gisborne: RMA breaches go to court

Wednesday 26 Jun 2019

Hikurangi Forest Farms admits charges following devastating Tolaga Bay floods - Hikurangi Forest Farms has admitted its forestry waste was among the devastating raft of debris that surged through Tolaga Bay in floodwaters last June, causing millions of dollars in damage.

The company and nine other companies subsequently charged by Gisborne District Council with breaching the Resource Management Act were represented at an Environment Court hearing in Auckland district courthouse recently.

Hikurangi Forest Farms vacated not-guilty pleas from March and its trial by jury election to plead guilty to two breaches of the RMA — that it discharged contaminants, specifically forestry waste, on to land or into water.

The charges relate to the company’s Wakaroa and Te Marunga forests, with the offending said to have occurred between June 2017 and July 2018.

Council prosecutor Adam Hopkinson withdrew two further charges alleging breaches of another part of the Act — that the company used land in a manner that contravened RMA regulations.

Judge Melanie Harland scheduled sentencing for October 1.

She also referred the case for restorative justice, which Mr Hopkinson said would be convened either by the court’s service provider or by a council- assigned provider.

The other companies charged in relation to the alleged offending have maintained not guilty pleas and have each been further remanded for another case review hearing on September 23.

Those companies are A and R Logging Ltd, DNS Forest Products 2009 Ltd, Ernslaw One Ltd, Juken New Zealand, Logic Forest Solutions, Permanent Forests Ltd, PF Olsen Ltd, South Pacific Forestry Holdings Ltd, and Timbergrow Ltd.

Earnslaw and Timbergrow have elected trial by jury; the others have elected judge-alone fixtures.

The trials, which will involve numerous witnesses and thousands of photographs, are expected to take at least three weeks.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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