A macadamia nursery owner, property manager and the company have been fined over water-related offences. Picture: Marc McCormack
A macadamia nursery owner, property manager and the company have been fined over water-related offences. Picture: Marc McCormack

$16,000 in fines handed down for water access offences

A MACADAMIA nursery company, a landowner and property manager have each been fined after pleading guilty to water-related offences.

Brooklet-based Macs Operations Pty Ltd, property manager Andrew James Starkey and landowner Anthony Michael Powell had each previously pleaded guilty to a number of allegations before Ballina Local Court.

Between them, they have received $16,000 in fines for using infrastructure on the property to access creek water.

Mr Starkey is the former head of the Australian Macadamia Society.

All three were sentenced before the same court last Thursday.

Starkey was convicted of taking water without an access licence and constructing/using water supply work without approval, fined $5000 and ordered to pay $3000 in professional costs to the Natural Resources Access Regulator, which was the prosecuting authority.

Macs Operations Pty Ltd was convicted of two counts of the same charges and was fined $10,000.

The company was ordered to pay $7000 in professional costs.

In a statement, the NRAR said NSW water laws had been breached in the way water was accessed at the macadamia nut nursery.

The charges related to the act of "using a pump, tank and pipes to take and use water without a water supply work approval".

"The breaches took place between June 2016 and July 2018," the NRAR said.

Powell, the property owner,pleaded guilty to one count to taking water without a licence.

The NRAR said this charge "covered several alleged instances".

He was fined $1000 and ordered to pay court costs of $2000.

The NRAR's Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the public had higher expectations of companies than of individuals.

"Companies should have adequate systems in place to comply with the law; the community expects nothing less," he said.

"It is critical for the integrity of the state's water management system that users of water hold licences and approvals, as failure to do so can harm other water users and the environment."


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