Councils are supposed to uphold by-laws and they do against their own ratepayers.
Recently we say a farmer prosecuted for polluting a stream because of his ham-fisted method of willow tree extraction. Farmers and businesses are regularly prosecuted as well by councils when unauthorised or exceesive discharges are made into stream and rivers.
But what do you do when the polluter is the council, and the Regional Council above them refuses to prosecute them.
That is what is happening in the Hawkes Bay where the Central Hawkes Bay District Council is continually breaching sewage discharge permits and has been for more than 10 years.
If it was a farmer they would have been hauled before the courts and prosecuted and fined massive amounts of money…but not this crowd.
The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council could face private prosecution of its members over failures of its wastewater system.
The council is in breach of discharge consents which have been in place just three months.
The possibility of the prosecutions has been raised by Friends of the Tukituki spokesman and political campaigner Simon Lusk, who told Radio New Zealand if the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council would not prosecute, then the group would look at prosecuting CHB councillors and Regional Council staff, Mr Lusk says, are “failing to uphold their statutory obligations”.
CHB Mayor Peter Butler said “they” had threatened the council with prosecution before, and council chief executive John Freeman said he received a letter from the group last month. “My understanding is you can’t prosecute against individuals on the council,” Mr Freeman said. He said the two councils and the Friends of the Tukituki “all want the same outcome” – to ensure the river is free of any unwanted discharge.
“Any prosecution would be a distraction and a waste of time and money which would be better spent ensuring it [the system] is up and running properly,” Mr Freeman said. Regional council staff have decided against prosecuting the council despite six breaches of the discharge consents since they came into effect in October.