A Bay of Islands developer has been ordered to remove a large quantity of fill dumped in a wetland reserve by 5pm today.

The fill, estimated to total 10-15cu m, was used to create an accessway across the wetland to property owned by the developer on Waimangaro Rd, near the Roadrunner Tavern between Paihia and Opua.

The wetland is understood to be a public reserve but it was not clear yesterday whether it was administered by the district council or the Department of Conservation. However, even if the wetland was on private land, under Northland Regional Council planning rules a consent is required before any indigenous wetland can be modified. The developer could not be reached for comment by edition time yesterday.

Part of the accessway was built across a road reserve owned by the Far North District Council.


Northland Regional Council regulatory services manager Colin Dall said the developer had been instructed earlier this week to remove the fill and had agreed to do so by today. The council had not yet decided if further action was needed.

At this stage the council's priority was to make sure the soil was removed and that adequate controls were in place wherever the fill was taken so sediment did not end up in waterways. Further action, such as a fine or prosecution, would depend on a number of factors, including the degree of co-operation and any earlier incidents.

Paihia man Brad Windust, of the conservation group Bay Bush Action, said the wetland was not large but was home to many species of plants and bird. They included a swamp maire, a tree he had not seen elsewhere in Northland and which fruited in winter, providing food for kukupa (native pigeons) and birds such as the mioweka (banded rail), bittern and fern birds. Kiwi also lived in the area.

FNDC spokesman Colin Patterson said much of the affected area was a road reserve. If the developer wanted to build an accessway across the site he needed a resource consent from the regional council and permission from the district council for a vehicle crossing on the road reserve. He would also have to lodge a corridor access request and traffic management plan.