NRAR commences 3 prosecutions to ring in 3rd year

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) commenced two prosecutions in the Land and Environment Court and another in the Tenterfield Local Court last week.

One of the three prosecutions includes a record 43 charges against the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act) which makes it the largest prosecution the regulator has issued in its three years of operations.

NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, said the regulator is firm and fair in its approach to enforcing water laws in the state, which is what the people of NSW expect.

“We’re tackling alleged water breaches with vigorous investigations both on the ground and in the sky. These prosecutions are a credit to the tireless efforts of our team and our use of innovative technology,” Mr Barnes said.

“We have accepted the mandate we were given to ensure the NSW water laws are followed and we will not shy away from prosecuting wrongdoers in the event of serious and willful non-compliance.”

Prosecution 1: A Moree-based irrigation company

  • An irrigation company in Moree faces 43 charges for alleged breaches of the WM Act for taking water while metering equipment was not operating properly, constructing an unlawful dam, using the dam without an approval, and for taking water which was not authorised by a licence or approval.
  • NRAR alleges the company took 600 megalitres of water above its licence allocation in breach of section 60C(8) of the WM Act.
  • The regulator also alleges the company took water of 1,200 megalitres in excess of the licence allocation in breach of section 60A(4) of the WM Act.
  • The alleged offending took place at various times between February 2016 and June 2018.
  • The maximum penalties for these offences range from $1,000,100 and $2,000,200 under the WM Act.
  • This matter is listed before the Land and Environment Court on 11 June 2021.

Prosecution 2: Two Griffith-based water users

  • NRAR has charged two Griffith water users for allegedly breaching the WM Act after taking water in excess of their licences and approvals.
  • One individual is accused of taking groundwater in excess of a condition on their bore approval over a three-year period.
  • The individual is also alleged to have taken groundwater above the water allocation on their licence between September and October 2019, and again in February 2020.
  • The regulator alleges the water user took approximately 6,000 megalitres of water in excess of their licence allocation.
  • A maximum fine of up to $500,500 for each offence is applicable if the person is found guilty of all seven charges.
  • The other individual faces one charge for allegedly taking groundwater in excess of the term and condition of their approval between 1 July 2019 till 30 June 2020.
  • If found guilty, the person faces a maximum fine of up to $500,500.
  • This matter is also listed before the Land and Environment Court on 11 June 2021.

Prosecution 3: Queensland-based earthmoving company and individual

  • NRAR alleges a Queensland earthmoving company constructed an unlawful bore in March 2019 and unlawfully took water through the bore in July and August 2019.
  • If found guilty, the company faces penalties up to $2,000,200 in fines for each offence.
  • A landowner connected to the company also faces three charges for allegedly using the unlawful bore without a water supply work approval to take water and allegedly using the unlawful bore without an approval to capture and store water at their property.
  • If found guilty, the landholder faces the highest penalty of $500,500 for each offence.
  • The regulator alleges all offences took place in the Border Rivers region.
  • The matter is listed before the Tenterfield Local Court on 10 June 2021.

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar. Go to ‘Reports and data’, then ‘NRAR Public Register’.

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