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Waiau farmer fined thousands

Eva Dallison
Elizabeth Thomson
Riverbed damage on farmer Jan Scott Rutherford''s property.  Environment Canterbury (ECan)

A Waiau farmer has been fined $34,000 for illegally clearing riverbed land on his property.

Jan Scott Rutherford sed heavy machinery to destroy plant and animal habitat along riverbeds on 70 hectares of his farming property.

Environment Canterbury(ECan) released a statement, saying Rutherford was fined $34,000, as well as having to pay for remedial work to repair the river bank which was estimated to cost $130,000. Despite the riverbed being part of his property, Rutherford was found to be in breach of the Resource Management Act.

Rutherford was found to have intentionally breached the Act for the purpose of commercial gain. 

Acting ECan chief executive Stefanie Rixecker said Rutherford’s actions had affected the natural character of the riverbed, which was "unacceptable".

"He needs to be held accountable," she said.

The damage along the riverbed would take years to repair.

Rutherford was sentenced on August 15 and would continue to pay for the damages over the next two years to restore the riverbed. 

Judge Hassan, who sentenced Rutherford in the Environment Court, said the farmer had showed a high level of carelessness.

"The environment suffers and the community loses something precious when the intrusion that [he] undertook in a riverbed occurs."