A NORTH West farmer has been fined more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars after admitting to illegal land clearing on a property north of Moree.
The landholder was fined close to $350,000 in the NSW Land and Environment Court for clearing land at the farm near Garah over two-and-a-half years.
A judge slapped the farmer with a $348,750 fine for breaching the Native Vegetation Act when they cleared approximately 500ha of native vegetation between December, 2014, and May, 2017.
The court found the extent of environmental harm was 'substantial'; the clearing was motivated by financial gain; and the penalty needed to be a deterrence to others.
The landholder was taken to court by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), and the court was told how the extent of illegal clearing had affected a number of flora and fauna populations at the property.
The OEH said the clearing had removed part of the endangered ecological communities of Coolibah Black Box Woodland and a Darling River aquatic ecological community.
A remediation order has been put in place, meaning the landholder is required to carry out the regeneration and protection of native vegetation across 975 hectares of land, including the planting of native species, and weed and feral animal control.
The OEH said the initial penalty of $450,000 was discounted by 22.5 per cent for the landholder's guilty plea, and he was also ordered to pay the department's legal costs of $40,000.
The Native Vegetation Act has now been repealed by the NSW Government.