Success for farm sentence appeal

23:58, Mar 12 2014

Eden Road boysenberry and apple farm on the Waimea Plains has successfully appealed against its sentence for taking excess ground water during last year's drought.

The company will be re-sentenced in the Nelson District Court.

It appealed after being fined $29,100 in the Environment Court in December on two charges which it admitted of unlawfully taking water from two bores on its property. It was fined $20,000 relating to one bore and $9100 for another.

In the High Court at Nelson the company argued the sentence was excessive and based on wrong information provided by the prosecution.

In her appeal decision, Justice Goddard noted that the prosecutor had informed the Environment Court that the Tasman District Council had observed excessive water use on 17 prior occasions and that the council had issued four warnings to Eden Road.

Eden Road's counsel did not challenge that, and in sentencing Judge Melanie Harland translated the prosecutor's submission about the company using excessive water on 17 occasions into Eden Road having received 17 "warnings" from the council regarding excessive water use, which it had ignored.

The prosecutor accepted that a lack of clarity in her oral submissions was likely to have led to the error by the judge in elevating 17 occasions of excess water taking into 17 warnings.

No criticism could fairly be levelled at Judge Harland's approach to sentencing, which was both careful and assiduous, said Justice Goddard.