Forestry Act 2014

24.

Powers of authorised officers

24. (1) An authorised officer shall, for the purposes of the relevant statutory provisions, have power to do any one or more of the following:

(a) subject to subsection (3), at all reasonable times enter, inspect, examine and search any lands or place to which the authorised officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the relevant statutory provisions apply, including for the purpose of surveying or mapping any land for any purpose under those provisions, or for the purpose of inspecting any trees or timber thereon;

(b) while on the lands or at the place referred to in paragraph (a), may inquire into, search, examine and inspect—

(i) any tree and anything relating to trees, including plants, soil, compost or seeds,

(ii) any timber or timber products,

(iii) any activity, installation, process, procedure or matter at that place,

(iv) any records relating to any of the foregoing matters;

(c) take, without payment, samples of anything found at or near that place or on those lands for the purpose of tests, analysis or examination;

(d) require that that place or lands and anything at it or on it be left undisturbed for so long as is reasonably necessary for the purpose of any search, examination, investigation, inspection or inquiry under those provisions;

(e) remove any material from the place or lands that he or she considers a risk to trees or other plant life, or is otherwise relevant to his or her inspection;

(f) inspect and take copies of or extracts from any such records or any electronic information system at that place, including in the case of information in a non- legible form, copies of or extracts from such information in a permanent legible form or require that such copies be provided;

(g) require a person at that place by whom or on whose behalf a computer is or has been used to produce or store records or any person having control of, or otherwise concerned with the operation of the computer, to afford the authorised officer access thereto and all reasonable assistance as the authorised officer may require;

(h) remove from that place and retain such records (including documents stored in a non-legible form) and copies taken and detain the records for such period as the authorised officer reasonably considers to be necessary for further examination or until the conclusion of any legal proceedings;

(i) require the person in charge to give the authorised officer such information as the authorised officer may reasonably require for the purposes of any search, examination, investigation, inspection or inquiry under those provisions, including the name and address of the owner or manager of the lands;

(j) examine any person whom the authorised officer reasonably believes to be able to give to the authorised officer information relevant to any search, examination, investigation, inspection or inquiry under those provisions and require the person to answer such questions as the authorised officer may ask relative to the search, examination, investigation, inspection or inquiry and to sign a declaration of the truth of the answers;

(k) take any measurements or photographs or make any tape, electrical or other recordings that the authorised officer considers necessary for the purposes of any search, examination, investigation, inspection or inquiry under those provisions;

(l) require production of any licence, approval or other document pursuant to which forestry activities are being, or have been carried out.

(2) Where, under subsection (1)(c) or (e), an authorised officer removes material from any place or lands, he or she shall give a signed inventory for such material to the owner or occupier, or to any person on such place or lands, or, if no such person is present, he or she shall, within 3 days of the removal, send the inventory by pre-paid registered post to the person that he or she considers to be the owner of the place or lands.

(3) An authorised officer shall not enter a dwelling other than—

(a) with the consent of the occupier, or

(b) in accordance with a warrant of the District Court issued under subsection (6) authorising such entry.

(4) The Minister may authorise any other person that he or she considers appropriate to accompany an authorised officer in the performance of his or her functions.

(5) Where an authorised officer in the exercise of his or her powers under this section is prevented from entering any place or lands, an application may be made to the District Court for a warrant under subsection (6) authorising such entry.

(6) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on an authorised officer under this section, if a judge of the District Court is satisfied by information on oath of an authorised officer that there are reasonable grounds for believing that—

(a) there is anything at any place or any records (including documents stored in a non-legible form) or information relating to a place or lands that the authorised officer requires to inspect for the purposes of the relevant statutory provisions, held at any place, or

(b) there is, or such an inspection is likely to disclose, evidence of a contravention of the relevant statutory provisions,

the judge may issue a warrant authorising an authorised officer, accompanied by such other authorised officers or such other competent persons as may be appropriate, at any time or times, within one month from the date of issue of the warrant, on production of the warrant if requested, to enter the place or lands, if necessary by the use of reasonable force, and perform the functions conferred on an authorised officer under the relevant statutory provisions.

(7) Where an authorised officer has reasonable grounds for apprehending any serious obstruction in the performance of his or her functions or otherwise considers it necessary, he or she may be accompanied by other authorised officers or any other person authorised by the Minister for this purpose, when performing any functions conferred on him or her by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

(8) A statement or admission made by a person pursuant to a requirement under subsection (1)(j) shall not be admissible in proceedings brought against that person for an offence (other than an offence under section 27(5) ).

(9) Where an authorised officer, upon reasonable grounds, believes that a person has committed an offence under the relevant statutory provisions he or she may, in addition to other powers under this section—

(a) require that person to provide him or her with his or her name and the address at which he or she ordinarily resides,

(b) excavate soil, and

(c) seize any material that he or she considers relevant to the prosecution for the offence, including—

(i) any trees felled or otherwise removed, and

(ii) timber,

resulting from what he or she reasonably believes to be unlawful actions pending—

(I) payment in respect of a fixed payment notice, or

(II) the trial for such an offence.

(10) In this section—

“person in charge” means, in relation to a place, any of the following:

(a) the owner;

(b) the person under whose direction and control the activities at that place are being conducted;

(c) the person whom the authorised officer has reasonable grounds for believing is in control of that place;

(d) the driver of the vehicle;

“place” includes a vehicle or any attachment to a vehicle.