A PINJARRA company has been fined $160,000 and ordered to pay $16,984 in costs after 11ha of land was cleared for cattle without permission.
Ivo Nominees was found guilty at trial for two counts of contravening the provisions of a planning scheme.
Owner Paul Letari was sentenced in Mandurah Magistrates Court on Friday, April 20.
Prosecutor Petter Gillett, from McLeods Barristers and Solicitors, said the area cleared for cattle was significant.
Mr Litari said the value of the vegetation was low and the area had never been assessed for its conservation value.
The court was told an appeal had been lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority to revegetate the land; the vegetation would be reinstated if warranted.
Magistrate Anne Longden acknowledged the clearing was not motivated by commercial or financial gain.
Outside court Mr Litary said he was disappointed with the outcome.
The land was near a river in Murray River Estate.
“The land cleared was contaminated with cotton bush,” Mr Litany said.
Mr Litary said he did not know he needed permission to clear the land on his farm for his cattle to graze.
He said some of the clearing was also to create a fire break.
Shire of Murray chief executive Dean Unsworth said clearing of such a large amount of bushland was a significant environmental loss especially in a wetland area, which was the unfortunate reality in this case.
“Wetlands are of vital importance in our landscape as they provide important habitat and help naturally filter the water in our region,” he said.
On April 16 a Shire of Murray resident was fined $35,000 after he was found guilty of illegally clearing native vegetation at a North Dandalup property.
Mr Unsworth said the resident carried out the work without the necessary approvals from council or the Department of Water and Environment Regulation.
Mr Unsworth said the court agreed the volume and quality of vegetation cleared was significant and irreversible and the fine reflected the seriousness of the offence.
Under the Planning and Development Act 2005, landowners could face penalties of up to $200,000 for carrying out development without the necessary prior approvals.
“The Shire hopes that these cases highlight the severity of illegal land clearing and deter others from clearing vegetation on their property without approval,” Mr Unsworth said.
“The Shire, its residents and businesses must work together to protect our unique natural environment by following the correct process.”
The Shire encourages landowners to contact its Environment Services team on (08) 9531 7777 prior to carrying out any clearing.