A Makara farmer says Meridian Energy have ridden roughshod over his property after spraying herbicide and killing erosion-control plants without his permission.
Graeme Hook is a third generation farmer at a rural Wellington cattle farm and said the state-owned company, which owns a block next to his property, sprayed riparian plants such as willows and poplars without his permission about a month ago.
The areas sprayed are browning and dying off and Hook said the lack of consultation, let alone permission, was typical of the power company’s management of its land assets in the rural valley, about 20 minutes drive from central Wellington.
“Going on to another person’s property and doing this is trespass and willful damage but I can’t seem to stop them coming on to my property,” Hook said.
Hook has lodged a complaint with Greater Wellington Regional Council and is expecting a prosecution of the spraying contractor after he said Meridian damaged plants he was growing to protect the Makara Stream from erosion.
The council said a duty officer had visited the site and the matter was under investigation. The investigation would be completed in 2016.
The junction of the meandering Makara and Ohariu streams, where the 40ha family farm is centred, was “the worst place in the world to come along and destroy” erosion-control plants, Hook said.
In 2005 the power company faced staunch local opposition to its $350 million, 62-turbine West Wind farm at Quartz Hill, next to Hook’s property.
Meridian spokeswoman Michelle Brooker said resource consent for its 26-turbine Mill Creek wind farm required riparian planting along the banks of the Makara Stream on land it owns next to Hook’s property.
Brooker said as part of the ongoing maintenance of the area the consent conditions required the power company to spray weeds to allow the plants to grow.
“We have been working with Mr Hook as part of this revegetation programme. Unfortunately during weed spraying of this area, a Meridian contractor accidently sprayed what he thought were weeds on Hook’s property,” she said.
“Meridian apologises for any damage caused to Mr Hook’s plants and will work with Mr Hook to resolve this issue.”
Hook said he was sceptical about the motives behind the company’s apology and would “wait and see” what happened.
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