Posted: 22 April 2005
Illegal Far North coastal works spark warning
Far North residents are risking hefty fines by illegally dredging in coastal areas or building jetties and other structures, the Northland Regional Council warns.
Over the past year the Council has responded to about a dozen significant environmental incidents in the Far North District where people have illegally excavated or placed structures in the Coastal Marine Area (CMA).
Council Coastal Monitoring Team Leader Bruce Howse says incidents have included a boat ramp built without resource consent and extensive channels dug through mangroves to improve boat access.
Mr Howse says the legal landward boundary of the CMA is generally the line of mean high water springs and also includes estuarine and harbour areas and their river tributaries.
He warns those breaching the Resource Management Act are risking a penalty of up to two years’ jail, a fine of up to $200,000 and/or being made to undo or remove the unauthorised works.
Mr Howse says the Resource Management Act places explicit restrictions on the use of the Coastal Marine Area, with requirements for resource consents before any work is started.
“Simply not being aware of what the regulations are, or failing to determine that the area of works is not in the CMA, is no excuse.’’
“In the case of the boat ramp, the owner was made to remove it and had to pay a fine as well. In the cases where channels have been dug, we have prosecuted the principal offender as well as the contractor who did the work.’’
Mr Howse says contractors should always ask to see a resource consent before doing any work in the coastal marine area.
Mr Howse says examples of works that require prior resource consent approval include:
- Drilling or drainage type works
- Placing a structure (pipeline, jetty or boat ramp)
- Vegetation removal and many other types of works.
He acknowledges that determining the legal landward boundary of the CMA can be challenging.
“However, the Northland Regional Council will be able to provide advice over whether a particular area is considered to be CMA and whether resource consent is required for any particular activity.’’
Mr Howse says people with concerns about dubious or suspicious works occurring in or adjacent to the coastal marine area should report these matters for investigation to the Northland Regional Council’s 24-hour Environmental Hotline freephone (0800) 504 639.