Shoalhaven City Council successfully prosecuted a Wollumboola resident with criminal charges in Nowra Court on Tuesday, 13 February 2019.
Mr Phillip Vella was issued with a Penalty Infringement Notice following his failure to comply with an order within a Pollution Prevention Notice issued by Council in February 2018 pursuant to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Mr Vella elected to challenge the Penalty Infringement Notice which was heard before her Honour Magistrate Fleming in Nowra Local Court on 13 February 2019. The Court did not accept Mr Vella’s defence and held him to be in breach of the Pollution Prevention Notice. Her Honour ordered a conviction to be recorded, a fine of $2,000 and $1,000 to be paid to Council for legal costs.
Shoalhaven City Council Mayor Amanda Findley said the decision was a significant win for staff and the community in taking a strong stance on such issues.
“In this incident Council staff received numerous complaints concerning Mr Vella’s property and when they inspected his property they could see the farm had inadequate fencing at the foreshore boundary and significant environmental damage to the Crookhaven River foreshore,” Clr Findley said.
“Staff issued Mr Vella with a notice asking him to ‘Cease cattle from the property accessing adjacent properties, Crown Land and the foreshore to stop them harming protected saltmarsh and mangrove vegetation and potentially polluting the Crookhaven River’.
“I want to thank local community members who came forward to give evidence on what they witnessed happening on this property including cows accessing the waterways and feeding in the mangroves.
“While the fine issued by the court is small, the issuing of criminal charges under the Prevention of the Environment Operation Act 1997 will ensure a record of this incident will be kept and will be considered if future incidents occur on this property.”