Golf resort fined $86,000 for environmental pollution

Formosa sold the resort earlier this year.
Formosa sold the resort earlier this year. Photo credit: Getty

Formosa Golf Resort has been fined $86,250 for pumping untreated sewage into the environment. 

The fine comes after Formosa pleaded guilty to six charges under the Resource Management Act, relating to a "neglected and seriously malfunctioning" wastewater treatment system at its golf resort in Beachlands, Auckland. 

Formosa sold the resort earlier this year and the wastewater system was fixed prior to the sale.

In 2019, inspectors from Auckland Council discovered the resort's neglected wastewater treatment system had been discharging untreated, or partially treated, wastewater directly into the environment.

That inspection came "after previous notices and warnings" to the company, Auckland Council said, with the discharge having a detrimental effect not only on the land but also on the nearby Waikopua Creek, with high levels of E-coli found in the creek.

According to Steve Pearce, Auckland Council's regulatory compliance manager, Formosa knew about problems it had with its wastewater system but "consciously ignored" infringement notices and "repeatedly failed to take steps to address the issues".

"This kind of negligent pollution is completely unacceptable, but also completely avoidable. If the company had acted when we first discussed it with them, the situation could have been remedied," Pearce said on Wednesday.

"Instead it has let the cost of fixing the problem early lead to what is a bigger financial penalty."

In a written ruling, Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick said while he did not think the company intended to discharge the waste, the sewage system was not given priority.

"Accordingly, the offending was extremely careless. The nature of the discharge made any amount of it a serious matter."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he hoped the fine would act as a deterrent.

"This pollution resulted from repeated acts of negligence and caused serious damage to Auckland’s natural environment," Goff said on Wednesday.

"The offender was made aware of the problems, but deliberately chose to ignore them. Had they chosen to engage with the council when asked, the problems could have been resolved and further action avoided, but given their indifference a punitive fine is entirely appropriate."