A demolition company owner who threatened to bring his guns
to a meeting at the Otago Regional Council offices has been
fined for illegally burning material which gives off highly
Clearwaters Otago Ltd and its director John Robert James
Clearwater (56) have been fined a total of $16,125 after
attempting to ''cut costs'' by burning demolition waste on Mr
Clearwater's farm in Allans Beach Rd on Otago Peninsula,
instead of taking it to the city's landfill.
The company and Clearwater were each convicted on two charges
brought by the Otago Regional Council; one for discharging
contaminants to air on August 23, 2013, by burning materials
containing heavy metals, that were painted and had other
coatings or plastics, contravening the Regional Plan: Air for
Otago and the National Environmental Standard.
The second charge was for discharging contaminants, such as
demolition waste including painted timber, metals, plastics,
insulation and wiring, contravening the Regional Plan: Waste.
In the Dunedin District Court yesterday, Environment Court
Judge Brian Dwyer said Clearwater's actions were deliberate
and planned as he was ''definitely'' aware of the rules which
banned such burning.
''There was an element of defiance in the offending.''
An aggravating factor was the comment made over the phone to
the enforcement officer that he would bring a gun to an
interview at the council offices, even though the statement
was later retracted, he said.
''The threat against a council officer doing his or her job
is unacceptable to the court.''
A lack of up-to-date financial information on the company and
Clearwater's own finances was concerning, Judge Dwyer said.
Further financial information was suppressed by the judge.
Regional council counsel Alastair Logan said Clearwater had
been burning demolition waste at his farm despite repeated
warnings from the council that it was illegal.
''Instead of disposing it at a proper landfill ... it wasn't
done that way, to save costs.''
The landfill rules had been in place since 1997 and the air
plan rules since 1998.
Mr Logan called for an ''uplift'' in fines for both parties,
given the calculated defiance of the rules for commercial
imperatives, the infringement notice issued previously for
the same actions and the ''unfortunate'' incident between
Clearwater and the enforcement officer.
Burning synthetic materials released toxic chemicals into the
air, where they were easily inhaled.
The chemicals and dioxins could remain in the environment for
a long time.
Counsel for Clearwater, Alex Cunninghame said there was no
scientific evidence showing any harm was caused by the
Since the incident, the material had been removed from the
site and taken to the Green Island landfill.
Clearwater was continuing to remedy the site, she said.
The case had taken a ''significant personal toll'' on
Clearwater and his wife.
Much of his behaviour and actions were born out of
frustration which ''boiled over''.
The comments to the enforcement officer were not meant as a
threat but more of an expression of that frustration, she
''He is very remorseful and has learnt his lesson.''
The judge fined Clearwater Contracting $9375 and ordered it
to pay solicitors' fees $113, disbursements $267.46 and court
Clearwater was fined $6750 and ordered to pay solicitors'
fees $113 and court costs $130.
Judge Dwyer ordered 90% of the fine should go to the Otago