Auckland Council prosecutes. Stream polluters caught red handed.

14 August. Two companies and one individual are being prosecuted under the Resource Management Act, for allegedly illegally dumping soil from construction sites onto a property in the Rodney ward.

The defendants, who have not been named, are due to make their first appearance in the Auckland District Court this month.

The issue was first raised well before Cyclone Gabrielle, in June last year, by Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers, who noticed heavy sedimentation in a stream.

Investigating further, Sayers said he observed the heavy amounts of sediment were not coming from any slips or erosion, but it appeared to be from trucks dumping soil onto a property, including what appeared to be into overland flow paths and too close to the banks of a number of steams, with large amounts of soil washing into the water. 

He believed that this must have been the source of the sedimentation polluing streams that runs into the riverways and eventually into the harbour. 

Sayers established that the soil was being collected in trucks from a consented construction site but the trucking carrier firm seemed to be dumping the spoil at what he believed could be an unconsented location, thus potentially avoiding monitoring from the Council and any consenting fees.

There appeared to be inadequate safeguards in place to prevent sediment washing into the river system, again likely saving the carrier costs but compromising the districts network of waterways.

He reported his findings to the Auckland Council but initially there was no action.

Worried that other people reporting similar illegal landfills to Auckland Council may have also been receiving the same lack of response he used his elected position to escalate the case to senior Council staff.

Eventually Council deployed compliance staff to investigate the trucking and dumping activity. This resulted in the prosecutions being filed by Council.    

Auckland Council would not comment or provide additional detail prior to the charges being presented in court.

Cr Sayers believes the practice of illegal cleanfill dumping is prevalent across the Rodney ward and the Auckland Council needs to dramatically lift its game to get on top of it.

He says an often unintended consequence for the land owner receiving the soil is the risk of the land moving in future years, sedimentation upsetting stream environments, and the risk of it containing contaminants. He warned landowners to be vigilant and to ask for the consenting documents if approached by carrier firms, sometimes allegedly offering cash incentives.

Allowing soil to be dumped on their land without the proper consents could make unsuspecting landowners liable to prosecution by the Council, which can include fines, as well as the additional costs of removing contaminated soil and having it disposed of correctly.