NRAR reflects on court decision

Despite a disappointing verdict in the Tamworth Local Court, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) will continue to hold those who breach NSW water laws to account.

The prosecution against two individual landholders from the Tamworth area, for alleged breaches of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act), was initiated by NRAR in January 2020.

NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said NRAR’s ability to prosecute wrongdoers and to have justice delivered in court is a key component of its compliance program.

“Although we are disappointed with the outcome in this matter, we respect the decision of the Tamworth Local Court,” Mr Barnes said.

“NRAR has a mandate to enforce NSW water laws and we will continue to actively do so, inside the courtrooms of NSW and out in the field across regional and metro NSW.

“2020 has been a momentous year for us a regulator — we took almost 880 enforcement actions, commenced eight new prosecutions and managed 630 suspicious activity reports. Our commitment to our work will continue in the new year.”

NRAR is guided by the fundamental principles stated in the Water Reform Action Plan, particularly to build a compliance and enforcement regime that ensures strong and certain regulation, and to introduce best practice for water management.

“It is our job to enforce NSW water law. Despite this loss, our compliance program is rigorous and robust. We have adopted new technologies to ensure water compliance and are now using satellite imagery analysis and drones to complement our field officers,” said Mr Barnes.

NRAR has brought 27 cases before the courts since its establishment in April 2018. Of those which have now concluded, almost 80 per cent have returned a positive outcome for the state of NSW (7 of 9).

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licenses and the WM Act.

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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