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Mindful Earth Sanctuary owner Boh Morel fined for breaching Shire of Augusta-Margaret River laws

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Mindful Earth Sanctuary owner Boh Morel.
Camera IconMindful Earth Sanctuary owner Boh Morel. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

The owner of a contentious commune in Karridale which was the site of an horrific injury last weekend has emerged from court in Busselton with fines totalling more than $130,000.

Mindful Earth Sanctuary’s Boh Morel was prosecuted by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River for breaching planning laws after shire interventions at the property last January amid complaints from neighbours about noise, bushfire safety and excessive numbers of campers.

Morel pleaded not guilty to two charges of undertaking development without approval and undertaking building work in contravention of the Building Act 2011.

The charges also related to running the sanctuary as a de facto campground and hosting ticketed events.

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In the two-day trial which wrapped up on Wednesday, Morel argued outdated planning laws failed to consider his property and intention to build a new community space.

He was ordered to pay fines of $117,500 and $14,606 in costs.

Shire president Paula Cristoffanini said the court decision confirmed the shire’s position that development rules had to be followed in the interests of public safety.

“This has been a long and involved process,” Cr Cristoffanini said.

“However, we’re satisfied with the court’s decision.

“The case serves as a reminder to us all of the importance of following the rules to ensure developments and events are safe, environmentally sound and that any impacts to neighbours and the wider community are well-managed.”

Cr Cristoffanini said the shire responded to “numerous complaints about illegal camping and events on the Mindful Earth site in January 2022 and commenced legal action against the owner of Mindful Earth in April 2022”.

“I urge all property owners to contact our shire to understand and determine the appropriate approvals before starting any development or events,” she said.

The Times previously reported Morel believed the shire’s camping laws were outdated and favoured commercial operators, whereas he saw himself as offering an alternative community space for those seeking to make a positive difference in the world.

A fire broke out at the property last Sunday when an allegedly new generator sparked a grass fire which tore through 10ha.

During frantic efforts to fight the blaze, a 20-year-old French man mistakenly poured a container of ethanol-based hand sanitiser on the fire and caught on fire.

He was airlifted to Fiona Stanley Hospital with burns to 90 per cent of his body and in a critical condition and now faced multiple surgeries, with a fundraising drive launched.

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