No one will be fined over a truckload of rubbish that was dumped at a Far North scenic lookout last year, the Far North District Council having been unable to prove that the man named on letters found among the trash was responsible.
In July Bay of Islands residents were horrified to find that someone had tipped a truckload of rubbish at the Mt Bledisloe lookout carpark, between Haruru Falls and Waitangi. Much of it had tumbled down a bank into bush, and on to a well-used Waitangi Mountain Bike Park track.
It appeared to have come from a home renovation project, given that it included roofing material, broken power tools, furniture, an incinerator and a bathroom vanity unit.
It also contained household waste,. and a number of documents with the name and address of a Haruru Falls man. They included a named letter from ACC, a roofing invoice and a building supplies docket.
The man named in the documents was ordered to pay a $400 fine and the $572.65 clean-up cost. However, documents obtained under the Official Information Act show the fine and costs were waived after the man told the council he didn't dump the rubbish, and that he was prepared to go to court to fight the accusation.
''I did stay at the alleged address, however I did not dispose of any rubbish,'' the man wrote in his response to the council.
''I have an extremely bad back, and would be incapable of carting bags of rubbish any distance. Also I do not own a vehicle.''
The man also told council staff he was a flatmate at the address, and that rubbish had been sorted by others. The property owner had organised the collection and disposal of rubbish.
A spokeswoman for the council's legal service team said the fine had been waived after a review of the evidence and the defence provided.
''A letter found in a pile of dumped rubbish is not sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed,'' she said.
''This case highlights the difficulties council staff face in policing littering and illegal rubbish dumping. We issue infringements based on the information we have. Where we have evidence, we do issue infringements or take court action. However, both options require a high level of evidence, often photographic, to succeed.''
The 'Northern Advocate' has asked the council if it will try to pursue the owner or other residents at the property where the rubbish originated, but the statute of limitations has expired.
Waitangi Mountain Bike Park project manager Tiffany Holland, who regularly has to clear tracks of trash, said she was disappointed that no one would be held to account.
''It was absolutely outrageous. It was a whole truckload. Now there's nothing to stop someone doing it again," she said, adding that any waste that contractors or park volunteers didn't manage to clean up eventually made its way to the sea.
Her message to would-be dumpers was simple: ''Don't be a tosser. Look after the environment.''