No legal action against Nelson forest owners

Friday 7 Dec 2018

The Tasman District Council will not take legal action against forestry companies in the wake of damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Gita. "In our case, there were no offences that would warrant any enforcement action against any forestry company," said council environment and planning manager Dennis Bush-King.

His comments come after news that Gisborne District Council has started prosecutions against "a number of parties" under the Resource Management Act. The prosecutions relate to six different forests in the Gisborne region on the East Coast of the North Island, including three near Tolaga Bay.

Debris, including forestry slash, covered pockets of Tasman district after Gita hit in February. In the Gisborne region, slash – scrap timber, branches and off cuts – crashed through some houses near Tolaga Bay over Queen's Birthday weekend in June.

The prosecutions are due to begin in the new year and Gisborne council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said there would be no comment while the matters were before the courts.

Bush-King said the Tasman council was "not privy to the circumstances or what has led to the decision behind Gisborne District Council taking action". The Tasman council was dealing with wide-ranging effects from storm damage after Gita "and responded accordingly, including surveys of forest estates".

"There were no formal compliance investigations initiated as there was no evidence of any offending on the part of the forest companies that would warrant them," Bush-King said. "Slope failures occurred in all areas of exotic and indigenous and there was little evidence of platforms, tracks and crossings failing in forestry blocks as a result of inaction or poor practices."

He added that even if a case could be made, the Tasman council could not follow the same path as the Gisborne council because there was a six-month limitation period "and we would be outside that timeframe". The Gisborne council might have a different consenting regime, Bush-King said.

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