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    Environment and Resource Management
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Record fine for Central Queensland couple charged with illegal land clearing

    Environment and Resource Management
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Record fine for Central Queensland couple charged with illegal land clearing

    Queensland’s largest ever fine for illegal clearing of vegetation under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 was handed down in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday.

    Central Queensland couple Finlay and Valerie Cocks were fined $112,000 for illegally clearing more than 320 hectares of remnant native vegetation – an area equivalent to the size of 475 rugby league fields. The couple were also ordered to pay legal costs totalling more than $19,000.

    The clearing occurred at a property known as ‘Diamond Dee’ located at Coomoo, near Dingo – about 120km west of Rockhampton.

    Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones said the record fine sent a strong message that environmental vandals will not be tolerated in Queensland.

    “This sort of illegal clearing is a huge threat to vulnerable wildlife in the Central Queensland region.” Ms Jones said.

    “Scientists evaluating the impact of the clearing have warned a number of threatened or endangered species may have lost key habitat, making them even more vulnerable.

    “This is exactly why our government introduced tough vegetation management laws – to protect endangered wildlife and ensure important vegetation that is crucial to the health of our environment and Queensland’s high biodiversity values is preserved.

    “The record fine handed down makes it clear – people who flout these laws will face tough penalties.”

    Endangered or threatened species identified by scientists as potentially impacted by the clearing include:

    • the bridle nail-tailed wallaby,
    • the red goshawk (bird),
    • the grey goshawk (bird),
    • the black-chinned honeyeater (bird),
    • the large-eared pied bat,
    • the squatter pigeon, and
    • the Brigalow scaly foot.

    The clearing, which took place between 18 September 2005 and 3 August 2006, was discovered through analysis of satellite imagery by the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s (DERM) Statewide Landcover and Trees Study.

    Landholders considering clearing vegetation should consult DERM, as well as their relevant local government and Federal Government departments, and follow their advice.

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