Fine and reprimand for East Coast debris damage

Friday 29 Nov 2019

Juken New Zealand has been fined NZ$152,000 and reprimanded by an Environment Court judge for its activities at Waituna Forest, after storm-induced slash and debris damage to waterways last June.

Gisborne District Council was also reprimanded by Judge Brian Dwyer. who said it was “disgraceful” the council had not made any compliance checks since first issuing Juken with resource consents for Waituna in 2013.

The GDC had a statutory obligation under the Resource Management Act to ensure compliance by consent holders but did not do it, the judge said. Forest companies in Gisborne and the council both needed to “lift their game”, Judge Dwyer said.

Juken is the first of several forest companies to face penalty for slash damage caused after weather events on June 3 and 4 and June 11 and 12 last year. The company changed its previous not guilty plea and pleaded guilty earlier this year to a Resource Management Act charge of discharging contaminants — slash, and logging debris — on to land where it was able to enter water.

On June 25, Juken self-reported the damage to the neighbour’s property (which it has since remedied) to the GDC, which had begun investigating debris damage caused in the area and at Tolaga Bay. Council officers who inspected Waituna found Juken in breach of six of the conditions in each of its two resource consents. Issues related to roading construction and run-off, water control, and unstable accumulations of log debris mixed with soil left perching over landing sites.

Abatement notices were issued, with which Juken had more than complied, Mr Hopkinson said. Judge Dwyer said the company’s culpability was high. It had not only breached its resource consents but had failed to comply with the NZ Forest Owners Association Environmental Code of Practice. Management and practices at Waituna were poor.

Forestry and wood processing company Juken has expressed “sincere regret”, after it was fined for breaching the Resource Management Act. A company statement said Juken “expresses sincere regret for its failure to comply with the law in this instance, and for the damage caused”.

Juken self-reported the discharge and co-operated with the council at all times, the statement said. Genuine efforts had also been taken to carry out remedial works required in an expeditious manner, the company said. To date, Juken has expended approximately NZ$600,000 remediating the damage caused and the only affected land owner is satisfied with Juken’s actions and efforts.


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