Three former directors of Ecoversion Logistics Ltd have been convicted and fined for their part in a failed tyre recycling venture in the Bay of Plenty.
The charges relate to the breach of two abatement notices, with Alan George Merrie and daughter Angela Kay Merrie each being fined $28,500 and Jonathan Lindsay Spencer fined $21,000.
Judge David Kirkpatrick released his judgment this week, following hearings in September and December last year.
The abatement notices were issued by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in August 2015 to put a stop to the stockpiling of tens of thousands of tyres at sites at Kawerau and Waihi Beach and also required their correct disposal. An estimated 1200 tonnes of tyres were stockpiled at the Kawerau site and a further 900 tonnes at the Waihi Beach site.
Regional council senior regulatory compliance officer John Holst said the defendants began stockpiling tyres for a tyre recycling venture before the recycling plant had been established and before the required resource consents had been obtained. When the defendants' tyre recycling project failed, mountains of used tyres were left sitting at the unconsented sites at Kawerau and Waihi Beach.
"The problem with end of life tyre mountains is over time they leach contaminants that ultimately end up in groundwater. These tyre mountains also present a huge fire risk. A recent tyre fire near Christchurch that had significant effects on the local community involved around 20,000 tyres," he said.
"The Ecoversion venture resulted in the creation of two separate tyre mountains consisting of more than 200,000 tyres so you can imagine the environmental damage if either of these tyre stockpiles had caught on fire."
Holst said the sentencing decision made it clear that directors of companies "cannot avoid their responsibilities by blaming others".
"Judge Kirkpatrick's sentencing decision also sends a clear message that those disposing of tyres need to ensure they are disposed of appropriately at an approved site. It's not okay to simply stockpile end of life tyres in the Bay of Plenty.
"What happened with the Ecoversion tyres in the Bay of Plenty is repeating itself around the country.
"One of the priorities of the current Government is to establish a tyre stewardship fund. This is the solution New Zealand requires, as it would build the true life cycle cost of tyres into the purchase price, and remove the incentive to simply stockpile large tyre stockpiles."
The three defendants have until April 30 to remove the remaining tyres from the Kawerau site.