Hikurangi Forest Farms dispute settled
In August 2012 Gisborne District Council lodged prosecution proceedings under the Resource Management Act against Hikurangi Forest Farms Ltd (HFF).
The proceedings alleged HFF breached resource consent conditions for roading construction and harvest and log waste management at Waimanu Forest. HFF does not accept it breached the Act but acknowledges that its approach to log waste management, benching and the width of roading in the forest was contrary to these conditions (which the Council maintains did breach the Act) and their own internal protocols. It considered at the time that the outcomes would have been acceptable and that the Council was aware of them. It accepts better communication about this with the Council would have assisted. It is acknowledged that some consequential damage occurred through severe rainfall/storm events in the area at the time.
Both parties acknowledge much of the regions plantation forest estate is on difficult, erosion prone land and it is important for all that careful management practices reflect this.
After lengthy negotiations the parties have agreed on an out of court settlement that reflects the significance of damage done, while avoiding the costs of court action.
HFF have agreed to pay $70,000 to Council to be used specifically for water quality and riparian indigenous biodiversity enhancement in the local area.
Inevitably some of the damage to the land is irreversible. However Council acknowledges HFF has diligently applied all reasonably available remedial measures in respect of that damage. Council also acknowledges that HFF has put in place additional measures to ensure its future practices take proper account of the erosion prone nature of the local area.
Council is pleased HFF is continuing to improve its practices since court action was commenced and that it is committed to best practice in its operations. Council is confident that will continue.
Council first and foremost works cooperatively with forestry interests, but will not hesitate to take formal enforcement action to ensure appropriate environmental standards, should that prove necessary.