By TONY GEE
Two Bay of Islands coastal property owners and a contractor have been fined $53,000 for reclaiming and excavating the seabed at Te Puna Inlet without resource consents.
Both landowners and the contracting company admitted charges brought by the Northland Regional Council under the Resource Management Act during three separate cases heard by the Environment Court in Whangarei last month.
Contractor Graham Parkes Ltd was engaged by the two owners to carry out separate works for them in the Purerua and Tangitu Bay areas of the inlet.
In one case, the unauthorised work related to construction of a large foreshore reclamation of about 500 sq m in the Purerua area for property owner Charles D. Tompkins.
About 310 sq m of the coastal marine area was disturbed during the work.
Mr Tompkins was fined $17,000 and must go through the council consent process if the reclamation is to be retained.
If no consent is granted, the reclamation must be removed, the court ruled.
At Tangitu Bay, property owner Peter Kraus employed the same contractor to substantially excavate the seabed beside an existing jetty to accommodate the berthing of an 18m vessel. Two jetty piles were partly undermined as a result.
The court fined Mr Kraus $25,000 and ordered that repairs must be made to the jetty to the regional council's satisfaction.
Graham Parkes Ltd was fined $5000 for the Purerua work and $3500 for the Tangitu Bay job.
The court found that in each case, the defendants disregarded the need for resource consents for substantial modifications to the coastline and seabed.
The company was also fined a further $2500 after admitting a third offence involving unauthorised work at Opete Creek.
The landowner in this case has pleaded not guilty and a defended hearing is set down for next month.
As a result of the prosecutions, the regional council is reminding contractors and coastal property owners that resource consents are nearly always required for work in the coastal marine area or work involving disturbance of the seabed.
This includes construction of ramps, jetties, seawalls, reclamations and any excavation or dredging.