The Environment Court has banned the use of toilets on a five-dwelling Puhoi residential property, ordered portable loos be installed while sewage issues are resolved and ruled that no further temporary dwellings or caravans can be added to the place.
A trailer home and shipping container are also barred from use, the court decision said and no new tenancies can be struck till issues are resolved.
Auckland Council successfully applied to slap enforcement orders on property owner Kenneth Ian Braines, prohibiting him from establishing further dwellings at 20 Fowler Access Rd near the Johnstones Hill Tunnels on the State Highway 1 where it becomes a toll road north of Auckland.
The council sought the orders ex parte alleging illegal, unconsented residential units, wastewater and toilets. Braines was not represented or notified of the hearing in order to contest the allegations. He could not be contacted for comment by the Herald.
Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick made a number of enforcement orders after issues with sewage at the property, deemed to be a threat to health, including issuing an order to "disconnect and secure the toilet facilities at the site so that they can no longer be used".
Five buildings on the site were designed for residential use and the use of caravans contravened planning law because they were not being used as temporary accommodation.
The court ordered:
• No new or extended tenancies can be signed;
• All existing toilet connections must be disconnected;
• Alternative safe and sanitary portable toilet facilities of at lease one per household must be provided;
• A clay bund must be built downhill of each area where wastewater treatment systems discharge to detain contaminants;
• Areas of wastewater treatment systems for specific dwellings must be fenced off;
• All septic tanks must be emptied and de-sludge activities must be carried out;
• Braines is prohibited from establishing new dwellings on the land.
No toilets or waste water can be used on the site until an engineer has certified compliance, the judge ruled.
The decision said Braines "has no understanding of district plan requirements" and believed that all places there were consented.
Sandy Ormiston, a geotechnical engineer specialising in on-site waste water treatment, found discharge from the septic tanks on the site servicing the dwellings and found significant numbers of E. coli "which pose a significant risk to human health".
The system on the property was not designed to cope with the volumes of waste from the number of dwellings there, Ormiston said.
"In Mr Ormiston's opinion the poorly treated effluent discharges pose an extremely high risk to the ground surface with overland flow to the neighbouring Hibiscus Coast Highway drainage system. He also considers that two of the septic tanks are also at risk of collapsing and thus posing further risks to human health," the decision said.
However, the judge also noted a history of the site's non-compliance with previous enforcement orders and difficulties people encountered when attempting to investigate the site.