Developer loses appeal over discharge

Wanaka property developer Northlake Investments Ltd has lost its appeal against a conviction for discharging a contaminant into water.

The appeal was heard by Judge Karen Clark in the High Court at Invercargill in November, and her judgement was released last week.

Northlake was prosecuted by the Otago Regional Council over an incident in August 2017 when heavy rain carried sediment from earthworks along a natural flow path to the Clutha River.

At its district court trial, Northlake argued it took the reasonable precautions of a prudent developer to prevent the discharge.

Judge Clark noted the district court judge was "ultimately satisfied Northlake had not taken all reasonable precautions or appropriate preventive measures".

Northlake submitted the district court judge also said "there is no doubt that Northlake took a responsible and structured approach to the project to avoid environmental problems", and that showed an "inherent tension" in the judge’s assessment of the evidence.

Other grounds for appeal included the steps taken by Northlake and its contractor to avoid the problem.

However, Judge Clark said it was "the failure of Northlake" not to insist on a stronger sediment control system and "that prevents Northlake from demonstrating that a miscarriage of justice has occurred".

Northlake’s appeal against its fine of $42,500 was also dismissed.


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