A ruling by the Court of Appeal has validated hundreds of prosecutions brought by regional councils over the last 10 years under the Resource Management Act.
In a test case taken against Waikato Regional Council, an appeal was lodged claiming the council had not followed correct practice in initiating a prosecution.
It was challenged on the grounds that a regional council had to obtain permission from a district court judge or registrar before starting a prosecution.
While the ruling is a legal technicality, the council says it has the effect of reinforcing all actions taken by regional councils in prosecuting environmental offending.
Had the council lost, it would have meant all prosecutions taken by regional councils since 2001 would have been at risk of being revisited and overturned.
Figures for the last five years show 421 prosecutions were taken under the RMA nationally. Total fines amounted to $6.2 million.