Company cops big fine for illegally clearing 18ha of land in Mandurah

An aerial image showing the 18ha cleared.
An aerial image showing the 18ha cleared.

A PERTH company was fined $56,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court yesterday , after a Department of Environment Regulation (DER) investigation found it illegally cleared 18ha at a Mandurah site, impacting native vegetation and wildlife.

Between late 2011 and early 2012, Southregal Pty Ltd (Southregal) unlawfully cleared native vegetation, including peppermint trees up to 4m in height, at its property at Lot 2 Old Coast Road in Bouvard.

The site was home to 12 mammal, 21 reptile and 46 bird species, with site inspections after the clearing locating a dead Western Ringtail Possum and South West Carpet Python.

The site was a foraging and breeding habitat for the endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo, while its peppermint trees formed 90 per cent of the critically endangered Western Ringtail Possum’s diet.

Magistrate Hawkins said the real objective of the $56,000 fine was to properly penalise Southregal and provide for general deterrent as a disincentive to others.

The Magistrate also ordered the company to pay $6503 in costs.

DER also issued a Vegetation Conservation Notice to Southregal, requiring it to revegetate and maintain native vegetation at the site.

The Department’s acting director general Dan Volaric said the successful prosecution sent a strong message that DER would take action against those that illegally cleared native vegetation across the state.

“This was a serious offence, with the clearing spanning nearly twice the size of Elizabeth Quay,” he said.

“We would like to remind Western Australians that any clearing activities must be conducted under a DER-approved Clearing Permit or an exemption.”

Anyone who suspects any illegal land clearing can report it to DER on 1300 784 782, while information on Clearing Permits and exemptions is available online.