On 25 June 2012 the Federal Court imposed a $150,000 penalty on a Victorian farmer under national environment law for the illegal clearing of threatened vegetation.
The landholder from Bacchus Marsh, cleared 45 hectares of land removing the Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands of South-Eastern Australia, which is a listed threatened ecological community under national environment law.
From May to December, 2010 the landholder undertook earthworks on the property that resulted in the destruction of the ecological community. It was not until December 2010 that the land holder ceased his clearing of the property following the department obtaining a Federal Court injunction.
In addition to the pecuniary penalty the court has issued an order for the landholder to rehabilitate certain parts of the property and prohibits any further disturbance within the remediation area for the next 5 years. He’s also been ordered to pay departmental legal costs of $40 000. The landholder will be responsible for preparing and implementing a management plan to ensure an effective recovery of the ecological community affected across the property.
The department aims to work with landholders on environment and land management issues. When an acceptable solution can not be reached the department will take action to ensure compliance with the law.
The maximum penalty for an individual contravening the national environment law (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999) is $550,000.
For more information about the national environmental law and your property visit www.environment.gov.au/epbc/information/farmers-envlaw.html