3 Oct 2023

Fiordland tourism company pays out over breach of resource consent

2:53 pm on 3 October 2023
Boats moored at Milford Sound, Fiordland.

Boats moored at Milford Sound, Fiordland. Photo: Unsplash/ Michelle McEwen

Charges against a tourism company over a resource consent breach to moorings at Milford Sound have been dismissed, with the company paying court costs and $100,000 toward an environmental project.

The charges related to two moorings at Harrison Cove, which were modified by business RealNZ, breaching the existing resource consent.

Environment Southland resource management manager Donna Ferguson said the company successfully participated in a diversion process in the Queenstown District Court before the charges were dismissed.

"Environment Southland has a diversion policy in place which was established as part of our compliance policies," Ferguson said.

RealNZ acting chief executive Paul Norris said the upgrades were made for health and navigational safety in late 2021 and early 2022, but he acknowledged they did not have the correct sign-off from Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation.

The company took full responsibility, he said.

"Conservation is part of our history, part of our culture and a big part of our future, so we have learnt from this breach and the company will ensure it follows correct processes when dealing with resource consent changes, and Department of Conservation marine structure variations," Norris said.

A formal apology was made earlier this year, including to iwi Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku and to the Fiordland Marine Guardians.

RealNZ paid $100,000 to the council toward an environmental project in Fiordland and contributed to incurred costs as part of the diversion conditions.

Norris said staff also did additional training to ensure they were aware of and met their obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

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