Councillor admits water use breaches

Horizons regional councillor John Barrow has admitted charges brought by his own council because he did not want to spend another $50,000 defending them.

Mr Barrow appeared yesterday in Napier District Court, where he admitted four charges of taking excess water for irrigating his Dannevirke dairy farm and one charge of failing to comply with an abatement notice.

A charge of failing to comply with an abatement notice and two of taking excess water were discharged.

The offending took place in late 2010 and early 2011.

Mr Barrow's lawyer, Matthew Casey, QC, had argued that a discharge without conviction would be appropriate because the offending was not deliberate and had not harmed the environment.

Crown lawyer Ben Vanderkolk, acting for Horizons, said the offending had been deliberate and amounted to Barrow "thumbing his nose" at council rules and warnings.

The case will be called in Palmerston North District Court in April for a sentencing date to be set.

Mr Barrow must undertake restorative justice with the council.

Outside court, he said he had entered guilty pleas because to plead not guilty would have doubled the $50,000 he had already spent on the matter.

Mr Barrow believed he could remain a councillor but said there "would be some discussion with council" about that. He is the councillor for Tararua and the region's former Federated Farmers president.

Contact Marty Sharpe
Hawke's Bay reporter

The Dominion Post