Prosecution 'will harm environmental projects'

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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A former mayor has hit out at the prosecution of those behind a $100,000 environmental restoration project on Okoroire farmland, calling it draconian.

Gordon Blake, speaking at Waikato Regional Council's draft annual plan hearing on Monday, said the council was at risk of destroying much of the good work of field staff in the Upper Waihou Catchment if it proceeded with the prosecution of a landowner, farm manager and contractor who were involved in the project.

Blake, a former South Waikato District mayor, said it would have included the development of a community walkway that would have connected to the Waihou River.

"Due to the way this has been handled by Waikato Regional Council at this stage, local farmers are now wondering where they might find themselves when doing farm drainage and environmental projects.

"In fact, such is the anti feeling that has been created by the heavy-handed, intimidating and officious attitude by the regulatory division, there is a groundswell of negativity and a quickly spreading opinion that future worthwhile environmental projects that many were considering doing may now be discarded."

Council chairwoman Paula Southgate asked Blake not to detail the case, and told councillors not to question him on it, for fear of prejudicing the case.

Council senior media adviser Stephen Ward would not tell the Times when the case will be heard.

"Our position is that the regional council is unable to comment on any matter before the courts."

The case is expected to go before the court next month.

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- Waikato Times

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