Prosecutions for environmental pollution are trending downward in Tauranga.

There were 29 prosecutions in Tauranga courts for environmental pollution last financial year, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

Five years earlier, during the 2010 to 2011 financial year, there were 42.

Of last year's charges six resulted in convictions, 22 were not proved and one resulted in diversion.

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A Ministry for Environment spokesperson said enforcement of the Resource Management Act was the responsibility of local authorities. Prosecution was only one of a number of formal enforcement options and normally a last resort.

Other options included abatement notices and enforcement orders, letters and verbal warnings.

Nationally, the number of environmental pollution prosecutions has more than halved in the past five years.

There were 555 prosecutions in the 2010 to 2011 financial year and 234 last financial year.

Last year, 38 per cent of cases resulted in convictions compared with 43 per cent in the 2010 to 2011 financial year.

University of Auckland Associate Professor Kenneth Palmer said he wasn't surprised prosecutions had dropped. He thought people were better educated about environmental responsibilities.