Friday 9 December, 2022
Forestry company Ernslaw One Limited has been ordered to pay $355,000 for serious forestry offending related to a storm event in Uawa/Tolaga Bay in June 2018.
Ernslaw's fine is $225,000, and $130,000 is for emotional harm reparation to each of the parties who prepared victim impact statements.
Ernslaw pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges laid against them by Gisborne District Council.
This afternoon’s sentencing at the Gisborne District Court concluded one of the largest series of investigations and prosecutions under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
Ernslaw is the fifth company sentenced in Tairāwhiti after severe rain events in June 2018 dislodged sediment and slash (log waste) from poorly managed forestry sites. It’s estimated 400,000m3 of slash washed down hills, clogged rivers, caused serious environmental harm and damaged properties. Around 47,000m3 of the woody debris washed up on Uawa Beach.
Council Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says she wants today’s fine to be seen as a deterrent.
“Any company that pollutes our region will be prosecuted. Today’s sentencing of Ernslaw closes court action against five forestry companies from an event that devastated the community of Uawa more than four years ago.
“Our hill country is steep and erosion-prone. It must be planted and harvested with care to ensure sustainable management of our natural and physical resources.”
Ms Thatcher Swann says monitoring of consent conditions has increased.
“Storms of this intensity are becoming more frequent due to climate change. As a Council we must make sure best practice is being followed in forestry to protect our environment, people and property.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their perseverance to ensure all prosecutions around this event made it to completion.”
Ninety per cent of today’s fine will be paid to Council.
Ernslaw’s charges relate to Uawa Forest between June 1, 2017 and June 22, 2018.
Over Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2018 intense rainfall over Uawa dislodged sediment and slash (log waste from logging sites) on hilly erosion-prone slopes.
The slash came from a number of forestry sites, including Uawa Forest, where Ernslaw is the holder of the resource consent and responsible for the forestry harvest and associated earthworks. Uawa Forest is owned by Timbergrow Limited.
A week later more intense rainfall affected the district south of Uawa.
Other companies successfully prosecuted by Council from these events include Aratu Forests Limited (formerly Hikurangi Forest Farms Limited), Juken NZ Limited, DNS Forest Products 2009 Limited and PF Olsen Limited.
All pleaded guilty – some only days before their trials started.
All pictures below by Dr Murry Cave.