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Councillor may face three more water breach charges

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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A Horizons regional councillor who admitted charges brought against him by his own council is under investigation for three further alleged breaches.

John Barrow appeared in the Napier District Court last week and admitted four charges of taking excess water for irrigating his Dannevirke dairy farm, and one charge of failing to comply with an abatement notice. The offending took place in late 2010 and early 2011.

The council told The Dominion Post yesterday that there had been three instances of "over-abstraction" by Barrow this month and "the outcome is still being determined by our compliance team".

It said it had spent $78,000 preparing the prosecution against Barrow.

Outside court last week, Barrow, a councillor since 2010, said he admitted the charges because he had already spent $50,000 defending them and did not want to double that cost.

In an earlier appearance, his lawyer Matt Casey, QC, argued that a discharge without conviction was appropriate because the offending was not deliberate and had not harmed the environment. Excess water was taken because of a technical fault with machinery.

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.

Barrow was an outspoken critic of the council before being elected, particularly over its controversial environmental management plan.

After his court appearance, Barrow was ordered to undertake restorative justice with the council before the matter being called in the Palmerston North District Court in April.

Barrow refused to comment yesterday.

Contact Marty Sharpe
Hawke's Bay reporter

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- The Dominion Post


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