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Published: 2010-08-10 00:00:00

Environment Waikato says it is very encouraged by the fact that compliance with earthworks rules is rising and that enforcement actions against people doing earthworks improperly have dropped significantly.

Earthworks carried out in contravention of the law and regional council rules can damage the natural environment and lead to large amounts of sediment getting into waterways.

A report to today’s regulatory committee meeting on figures between 2007-08 and last financial year showed prosecutions for earthworks offences dropped from five in 2007-08 to none in 2009-10. Infringement notices with fines dropped from 28 to 15, abatement notices from 13 to two and formal warnings fell from 31 to four.

The rise in compliance with rules and the drop in enforcement actions comes against a background of EW running an ongoing series of erosion and sediment control workshops for contractors and consultants. More than 320 people have attended from 2007 to last financial year, with just under 60 people attending three workshops alone in June 2010.

The reduction in the number of "problem" sites was probably also related to a significant drop in earthworks activity generally in the region during the last three years in the rural and private sectors, said land and soil programme manager Grant Blackie.

But he said the figures made it clear there had been a rise in compliance with rules generally and a "major reduction" in enforcement actions in all areas relating to earthworks last year, following on from a similar trend the previous year.

"While it is difficult to assess the cumulative impact of information, education, compliance monitoring and enforcement activities undertaken on the earthworks sector, it appears anecdotally that standards in the earthworks area have lifted generally.

"In addition a greater level of advice is being sought from EW regarding consent requirements, particularly from the rural sector, which is encouraging."