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Published: 2016-02-25 00:00:00

A contracting company has been convicted and fined $32,000 for carrying out illegal earthworks on two farming properties in Paeroa.

The charges against Jacobsen Contracting Limited included excavating a watercourse and discharging sediment into water in breach of the Resource Management Act.

During sentencing in the Auckland District Court, Judge Jeff Smith said he wanted to make it clear to the contracting community that it had a duty to investigate whether resource consents were needed before undertaking works in any watercourses.

The case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, related to drainage and culvert work the company was engaged to do on adjoining farm properties near Paeroa in April 2015. A member of the public driving by the properties alerted the council due to concerns about the scale of the works and possible environmental effects on a wetland area and the nearby Ohinemuri River. 

Responding council staff found almost a kilometre of watercourses, including a tributary of the Ohinemuri River, had been excavated illegally and without appropriate erosion and sediment controls being installed. Significant amounts of soil and sediment were discharging downstream into the Ohinemuri River and continued for some three weeks after the works stopped.

The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said: “Unfortunately we have had a number of cases in the Waikato of earthworks contractors disregarding their own industry guidelines as well as environmental regulations. The courts are sending a clear message to this sector that they need to play their part in managing our natural resources.”