EPA fines Mt Cottrell company over silence and smell

An agricultural company has been fined more than $9,000 for failing to give information to EPA officers as they investigated reports of odours from its Mt Cottrell farm.

EPA West Metropolitan Regional Manager Steve Lansdell says the company missed the opportunity to avoid a fine.

“On 16 March 2022, EPA began receiving numerous reports from residents in the City of Wyndham area concerning an offensive odour, described as a fertiliser or manure type smell,” Mr Lansdell said.

“The next day, officers traced the odour back to a property on Dukelows Rd and were able to confirm that the company had been applying manure to paddocks on the farm,” he said.

EPA issued the company, Toohey Ag Contracting Pty Ltd, with an official notice requiring details of the type and amount of fertiliser or soil conditioner being used, details of any stockpiles, and any records relating to measures taken to prevent odour from affecting neighbouring properties.

“The company did not respond to EPA’s formal notice and failed to respond to a second notice a few days later. We only heard from the company director when he received the infringement notice – a fine of $9,087 for failing to respond to those notices,” Mr Lansdell said.

“Any business operator or landholder must take an EPA remedial notice seriously. In this case, cooperation in providing information and resolving the odour problem might have made a fine unnecessary,” he said.

“Paying the fine will not end the investigation, and EPA will still expect measures will be taken to prevent the odour problem in the future.”

Under the Environment Protection Act 2017 and the Infringements Act 2006, the operator has the right to have the infringement notice reviewed or be considered by a court.

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 372 842 or visit: epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

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