Man fined $30,000 for contravening EPO
Issued: 20 Dec 2022
A man has been fined $30,000 in the Gympie Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to several offences against the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).
The man was charged with one offence of contravening a condition of an environmental authority (EA), contrary to section 430(3) of the EP Act.
He was also charged with three offences of contravening an environmental protection order (EPO), contrary to section 361(2) of the (EP Act).
In addition to the fine, he was ordered to pay $3,000 in legal costs and $1,735 in investigation costs. No convictions were recorded.
The penalty has been welcomed by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).
The court heard the man, who owns a business, was required to develop and implement a scour protection plan to prevent scouring of the banks of a pit during a major flood event.
The EPO also contained requirements in relation to the preparation and implementation of stormwater management and sediment treatment plans at his business site.
Subsequent site inspections and drone surveys by DES compliance officers indicated that the man had contravened a condition of the EA by not maintaining the correct slope gradient in an internal wall of an excavation pit.
Stormwater management and sediment treatment plans, which had each been prepared and designed by and appropriately qualified and experienced person, had not been properly implemented in accordance with the design, which increased the risk of riverbank erosion and discharge of sediment from the site to the Mary River during a large flood event.
He also failed to implement the scour protection plan.
In sentencing, the Court considered the defendant’s timely guilty plea, that he had no previous convictions and had made significant progress in conducting the required works to comply with the EA and the EPO.
The court heard the man had spent around $200,000 to comply with the EA and the EPO.
In handing down the sentence, the magistrate accepted the risk to the environment from sediment discharge would be detrimental to aquatic life, and that environmental offences are serious offences.
As the environmental regulator, DES takes compliance matters seriously. It is the responsibility of the licence holder to comply with our strong environmental standards and obligations. Failure to meet these standards can result in fines and prosecutions.
Where a potential environmental risk has been identified, the licence holder must implement appropriate and effective control measures to minimise the potential for environmental harm.