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Cambridge company fined $85k for 'extremely reckless' earthworks, horse faeces contamination

A Cambridge landscape supplies company has been convicted and fined $85,000 for carrying out illegal earthworks, damaging and contaminating a stream and breaching an abatement notice in what a judged called "extremely reckless" behaviour. 

The breaches of the Resource Management Act related to Devon Park Limited's activities on its own rural property at Te Miro, near Cambridge.

A member of the public had notified Waikato Regional Council in May 2017 about extensive earthworks on the site and the subsequent environmental impacts, particularly to the stream that ran through the property, a tributary of the Waitakaruru Stream.

Subsequent inspections by the council determined the extent of the works, involving damage to and diverting of a stream, as well as extensive earthworks in high risk erosion areas. 

A large amount of sediment from the unstable earthworks was dislodged downstream during wet weather.  

The council also identified a very large mound of horse stable waste that had been collected by the company and placed on the hilly site for resale. The council observed a steady stream of leachate running downhill from the stable waste into the nearby waterway. 

In passing sentence in the Hamilton District Court earlier this week, Judge Melanie Harland commented that “the impact on the property was profound” and that “the defendant’s excavation and earthworks resulted in the land becoming unstable, and made it highly susceptible to erosion”. 

Judge Harland regarded the behaviour as “extremely reckless”.

Judge Harland also imposed an Enforcement Order prohibiting any further unlawful activity and requiring an engineer to be engaged to provide a remediation plan for the property. 

The order was agreed to by Devon Park Ltd.

A Waikato Regional Council staff member measures the extent of the stream damage caused on site. Source: Supplied