Illegal discharge into Glentui River
A Canterbury Regional Council prosecution for illegally discharging fine sediment into the Glentui River has successfully gone through the Alternative Environmental Justice (AEJ) process.
On February 24 charges were withdrawn in the Christchurch District Court as the defendant agreed to give back to the community.
The event occurred after Bushnell Nominees Ltd, had applied for resource consent to carry out earthworks and install a bridge at a property on the Glentui river. While undertaking this work fine sediment was discharged in an unauthorised manner which affected the river and downstream domestic water supplies.
The problem with fine sediment in rivers and streams is that it smothers the habitat on the bottom which then affects insect life and in-turn the fish that feed on them. This can irrevocably change the river ecosystem. Sediments are also a source of phosphorous which promotes the growth of nuisance algae and pollutes downstream environments which compounds the problem.
Canterbury Regional Council solicitor Vanessa Sugrue said the defendant accepted responsibility and applied to go through the Alternative Environmental Justice scheme.
This scheme is designed to expand options for making right the wrong and addressing the effects while ensuring that the consequences of offending are accepted by the community, those affected, the Regional Council and defendant as just and fair. It is a mixture of restorative justice and diversion. Part of this process involves a conference with representatives of the local community to discuss how the offending has impacted them and to be a part of seeking solutions.
Sugrue said the AEJ process was run by facilitators and attended by members of the Canterbury Regional Council, the Canterbury Water Managaement Strategy Zone Committee, Mr Bushnell and a neighbour.
“As a result the Oxford Area School and the Ashely-Rakahuri Rivercare Group are to receive a $5000 donation each for outdoor education purposes and bird habitat protection respectively,” she said. “Everyone had their say about what had happened, why it happened and discussed the impacts.
“We all agreed the donations to the two groups would be beneficial in this area and would ensure that resources were put back into the area affected. Overall the outcomes were fair and a worthwhile process to build education and trust.”
Mr Bushnell said “I found the alternative justice process to be a valuable experience which achieved positive outcomes for all involved. I felt it was a collaborative process where I was able to meaningfully engage with my community and the Regional Council.
I found the Regional Council to be very receptive of all comments. I feel as though the real benefit of this process is that matters can be resolved pragmatically in a manner which fosters no feelings of ill will. I am pleased to have been able to benefit my community as an outcome.”