Abatement notice for power couple's cattle
The country's top judge and her businessman husband have avoided a $750 fine but earned an abatement notice for allowing cattle into a north Canterbury lake.
Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and Hugh Fletcher, the former boss of Fletcher Building, are the owners of Lakes Station, where cattle were photographed on the shores and in the water of Lake Taylor last month.
Allowing cattle to stand in the lake breaches rules surrounding waterways in Canterbury.
Environment Canterbury investigated and after speaking to Mr Fletcher and the farm manager said there would be no fine. They were issued with an abatement notice and no further legal would be taken.
"The investigation found no evidence of any faecal matter in the lake, only a few cow pats on the shore, and that the cows were in a paddock they usually did not have access to," said compliance manager Marty Mortiaux.
"The actual environmental effect of this incident was minor and we are satisfied it was an isolated incident."
Mr Mortiaux said the abatement notice meant if stock were allowed in the lake again the penalties would be harsher, and the initial breach would also be cited.
Both Mr Fletcher and the farm manager had been cooperative, he said.
"The farmer had expressed remorse and is taking action to ensure this can never happen again, including fencing off vulnerable areas of the lake - which is a very proactive and responsible response."
Despite the couple's high profile, Mr Mortiaux said the incident had been treated like any other.
He also said media reports of a previous incident of stock in the lake in 2013 was actually attributable to a neighbouring property.
Dame Sian and Mr Fletcher bought into the station in 2000.