A COMPANY has been slapped with a fine of nearly $59,000 for failing to comply with a direction to remove an illegal dam on a creek near Guyra.
The company, November Foxtrot Sierra, had the fine imposed by the Armidale Local Court for failing to remove the dam on Nowlands Creek.
The local court magistrate found the company guilty of the offence and imposed a fine, with costs, of $58,824.
NSW Water Commissioner David Harriss said the conviction related to the construction of an illegal dam across Nowlands Creek and failure to observe a direction to remove the dam.
The commissioner welcomed the court’s decision.
“Illegal dams can directly impact on licensed downstream water users, stock and domestic users and the environment, by substantially reducing the volume of water flowing in Nowlands Creek,” Mr Harriss said.
“Acts of this nature can put the livelihoods of individuals, rural communities and the environment at risk, especially during times of drought, as occurred in this case.
“While the vast majority of water users do the right thing, some people still think they can illegally construct dams, ignore directions and access water without getting caught.
“This ruling shows that the community will no longer tolerate illegal water-related activities in NSW.”
Mr Harriss said the NSW Office of Water was committed to managing and protecting the state’s water resources in a fair and sensible manner, but would not hesitate to take the appropriate action if people or companies broke the law, including prosecution, that could result in substantial fines or even imprisonment.
Under the relevant legislation, companies can receive a maximum penalty of $22,000 for the offence, while an individual can get a fine of up to $11,000.
In most cases costs will also be ordered, which means a company can end up paying an even higher price for non-compliance.
However, under provisions of the Water Management Act 2000 that will soon apply across the state, the maximum penalty for the offence of failing to comply with a direction is $1.1 million for a company, with a continuing daily penalty of $132,000, and $247,500 for an individual, with a continuing daily penalty of $66,000.
“The NSW Office of Water takes all allegations of water breaches seriously and will not hesitate to bring cases to court when warranted,” Mr Harriss said.