Forestry company fined $57k over streambed destruction

An eastern-Bay of Plenty forest owner and harvesting company has been fined $57,000 for what a judge has described as reckless environmental behaviour.

The charges relate to the disturbance of stream beds and discharging sediment, trees and forestry debris into streams on a 197-hectare block of pine trees in steep mountainous terrain south-east of Ōpōtiki.

The offending was discovered in late October 2016.

The forest owner, Whitikau Holdings Limited, pleaded guilty to five charges in Hamilton District Court of contravening the Resource Management Act and was fined $57,000.

Harvesting contractors Paturakau Limited and Neville Walker were fined $4000 and $300 respectively after both pleading guilty.

In her sentencing decision, Environment Court Judge Melanie Harland concluded the offending effectively destroyed the beds of two streams for a period.

Judge Harland said Whitikau’s behaviour was extremely reckless, bordering on deliberate.