North Burnett property owner fined $1 million
A NORTH Burnett property owner was found guilty of illegally clearing native vegetation and ordered to pay nearly $1 million.
Michael Vincent Baker was found guilty of 46 offences in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday and ordered to pay $999,780, including costs.
Mr Baker cleared more than 350 hectares of native vegetation in a three year period.
Department of Natural Resources and Mines Director-General James Purtill said the punishment fit the crime.
"The fine handed down reflects the significant extent of the illegal clearing and Mr Baker's deliberate actions despite direct warnings given to him by the department,” Mr Purtill said.
He said Mr Baker contacted the department in 2011, seeking advice about managing vegetation on his property, and continued to illegally clear vegetation without a permit.
Mr Purtill said Mr Baker was given clear information about his responsibilities.
Mr Baker's case was an example of striking the balance between business and environmental concerns, he said.
"Queensland strikes a balance between enabling landowners to get on with managing their businesses by sensibly clearing appropriate vegetation, and protecting our environment,” he said.
"Our self-assessable codes enable landholders to undertake a range of vegetation management activities without needing to apply for a permit, but the rules are in place to protect valuable ecosystems and reduce sediment run-off.”
The department was committed to working with landholders to help them understand their responsibilities, Mr Purtill said.
"In addition to on-ground inspections, the department uses satellite technology to quickly detect changes in vegetation cover across Queensland, enabling us to make early contact with landholders if it appears they're doing the wrong thing,” he said.
"This ensures we can contact landholders before inappropriate clearing becomes widespread, but it is important that landholders work with us and abide by the rules in place.”