Forest company cleared of RMA breaches

28 April 2023
The owner of a NZ forest company who has been cleared of breaching the Resource Management Act says the charges were without merit. Forestry company John Turkington Ltd was found not guilty by unanimous verdict of four charges of breaching the act after a month-long trial in the Environment Court at Whanganui, which finished last week.

The charges were over work done by the company at two sites: at Kai Iwi northwest of Whanganui between April 2018 and June 2019, and at Rewa north of Feilding between December 2018 and June 2019. Another charge of breaching National Environmental Standards for undertaking earthworks at Rewa was withdrawn during the trial.

Turkington said in a statement the decision to defend the charges were straightforward because he had always maintained the charges were with without merit and would be strenuously defended.

“I stand by my values, my professional integrity and that of my staff, the industry, environmental experts with whom we work on a daily basis and that of my clients.

“I have been involved in the forestry sector for more than 30 years, working in partnership with forestry owners, from private individuals and companies to publicly-owned organisations.”

He said his team included people asked by industry and government agencies to advise on the development of best practice standards for the sector, including those that fall under the Resource Management Act and National Environmental Standards.

“I am incredibly proud of them and respectful of their expertise and industry standing.” Turkington said there had been a hefty cost to the process and it had been “incredibly stressful”, but he would make the same decision to defend the charges again on principle.

He believed a better way to deal with these issues was not through a “litigious and adversarial approach by the regulator”, but for the parties to work together and put environmental outcomes at the centre of the matter.

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Source: Stuff