18 Mar 2010

Winery fined $50,000 for water breach

2:42 pm on 18 March 2010

Hawke's Bay Regional Council has imposed a $50,000 fine on a winery for illegally taking water from the Ngaruroro River.

Morton Estate winery was convicted in Hastings District Court after pleading guilty to irrigating two vineyards in January and February last year during a council-imposed ban.

The council's compliance manager, Bryce Lawrence, says it's the largest fine for such a prosecution in Hawke's Bay.

He says low river flows over summer are a well-known risk for food producers and they need to make provisions for water storage dams.

Judge Craig Thompson says the fine was so large because Morton Estate deliberately breached its resource consent after the council declined permission for it to take water from the river.