Sunday, February 25, 2024

Waterfront owners warned after $41k fine for illegal works

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K4 Group Management Ltd constructed large, unconsented retaining walls on the waterfront property in Hawke Crescent, before deciding to apply for consent retrospectively. Photo Auckland Council

Waterfront property owners are being warned not to take matters into their own hands after a Beachlands resident carried out unapproved erosion prevention works, copping a fine of more than $41,000.

Auckland Council says the property owner carried out substantial preventative erosion works without building and resource consents.

K4 Group Management Ltd constructed large, unconsented retaining walls on the waterfront property in Hawke Crescent, before deciding to apply for consent retrospectively.

“We understand that protecting properties from erosion is important, but we ask homeowners to work with us and apply and gain consent before starting any work,” says Auckland Council team leader investigations, David Pawson.

In sentencing, Chief Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick said the company owner Ranjit Keshvara’s decision to proceed in the expectation he could obtain the necessary consents retrospectively amounted to a “thumbing of the nose at the regulatory regime”.

He went on to say this was a significant factor in the assessment of the defendant’s offending. He said the regulatory regime exists for good reason, which includes protecting the environment, and the health and safety of the public.

The judge added that offending which challenges this must be met with a sentence which particularly emphasises general deterrence.

“This should act as a deterrent to others who are considering doing any work to their properties that merge onto any areas encompassing coastal or council reserves. The damage to the area can cause major issues, and owners have an obligation to understand the rules pertaining to their property,” said Pawson.

The unapproved work involved the construction of two 20-metre wide retaining walls, one 5.8 metres high and another about 4 metres high. Rocks, aggregate and concrete barriers were also placed on the foreshore to provide access and a working platform for machinery.

Due to the large scale of the unconsented work, Council prosecuted the company charging it under the Building Act for unconsented building work along with two Resource Management Act (RMA) charges for illegal use of the foreshore. K4 Group Management pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $41,250.

“Coastal property owners are reminded that under the RMA, the Auckland Unitary Plan contains rules relating to activities on land and in the coastal marine area, which includes the foreshore,” Council said in a statement.

There are general rules restricting the deposition of material in the coastal marine area unless resource consent is obtained for that as a restricted discretionary activity. Both properties in this case are identified in the Auckland Unitary Plans maps as being within a coastal erosion hazard area and in that area works in the vicinity of coastal cliffs generally require resource consent as a discretionary or restricted discretionary activity.

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