7 Mar 2013

Businessman fined $36,000 for felling trees

8:56 pm on 7 March 2013

An Arrowtown businessman has been fined $36,000 after employing contractors who cut down trees on land next to his property near Motueka.

Michael Davies, whose family owns the transport and tourism firm Trojan Holdings, had been found guilty of breaching the Resource Management Act.

At the end of February 2012, Mr Davies employed a landscaper and arborists to redevelop land around his property at Anarewa Point in Stephens Bay.

While Mr Davies was overseas, the arborists felled 110 trees on the adjacent, council-owned Esplanade Reserve without resource consent.

During sentencing at the Environment Court in Nelson on Thursday, Judge Brian Dwyer said Mr Davies's offending was an "unacceptable intrusion into the public domain" and he "could have prevented the actions of his contractors".

Mr Davies's lawyer Nigel McFadden told the court his client accepts with hindsight that it should never have happened, but that it was not deliberate.

Outside court, Tasman District councillor Judene Edgar said the council had to take action.

"It was acknowledged by Judge Dwyer that this offending wasn't trivial or minor - it was actually quite significant. So for this one, it was probably an easier decision to make.

"It's a really important reserve both for the local people at Stephens Bay, but also for the district."

Ms Edgar said the council hopes the case will act as a deterrent to others.