A project manager convicted of supplying information they knew was false or misleading has been fined $30,000 in the NSW Land and Environment Court, plus costs of $35,000.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) prosecuted the person for giving a false site audit statement to Wollongong City Council.
The project manager was responsible for ensuring compliance with Council’s development consent requirements for the proposed residential land development in the Illawarra. The former rural site contained coal washery rejects and material containing asbestos.
This compliance included supplying a site audit statement from an accredited auditor.
Following enquiries made by Council and the person’s employer, the defendant admitted they had falsified the site audit statement for the development by fraudulently preparing and signing the site audit statement using the signature of an accredited site auditor they had worked with on the project. The defendant pleaded guilty to the offence in February this year.
Justice Pepper of the Land and Environment Court said there was no doubt the commission of the offence eroded the essential fabric of the regulatory canvas designed to protect against harm to the environment and human health.
The offence harmed the regulatory objectives of the Act, “by impairing the ability of the regulatory authorities to maintain appropriate standards of auditing and to manage contaminated land in accordance with principles of ecologically sustainable development and diminished the certainty that the [site auditor] scheme was designed to promote.” The fraudulent actions also had the potential to cause environmental harm.
The EPA understands that a legitimate site audit statement was later issued by an accredited site auditor which found the site suitable for its proposed use.