Trevor Frank Major was sentenced in the Perth Magistrates Court on 4 October 2021. As well as the $30,000 fine, he was ordered to pay $1,158 costs.
The unauthorised clearing was detected using satellite imagery obtained from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has access to high resolution satellite imagery over Western Australia, enabling the detection and investigation of clearing, even in remote parts of the state.
When DWER inspectors attended Mr Major’s property, they found 210 hectares of native vegetation had been cleared and burnt in preparation for cropping. The vegetation cleared included shrublands of Acacia, Casuarina and Melaleuca, along with areas of Eucalyptus Mallee.
When issuing the fine, the court noted that clearing took place in the Wheatbelt where impacts from salinity and soil erosion were well understood. Magistrate Joe Randazzo said the conviction “sent a forceful message to farmers in the Wheatbelt and to underscore the importance of preserving the environment and native vegetation”.
DWER Executive Director Compliance and Enforcement, Stuart Cowie, said the outcome sent a strong message against illegal clearing.
“The Department is committed to ensuring clearing is done lawfully, and in line with relevant laws and regulations,” Mr Cowie said.
“DWER will continue to take action when appropriate against those who unlawfully clear native vegetation.”
An eight-week consultation period is currently underway to collect feedback on a draft of Western Australia's first Native Vegetation Policy.
Submissions on the draft policy are welcomed from all interested parties and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will collate and analyse feedback. The feedback will inform a final policy for consideration by the State Government.
Consultation is open until 25 October 2021. To review the draft policy, make a submission, and to view the issues paper submissions and summary report, visit wa.gov.nativeveg.