Shire of Augusta-Margaret River wins mammoth land clearing legal case in Scott River

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
An aerial view of the Scott River site.
Camera IconAn aerial view of the Scott River site. Credit: Supplied

A blue gum plantation operator has been found to have undertaken illegal clearing in the Scott River area equivalent to nine Optus stadiums in size.

The matter was decided by a magistrate late last month after the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River successfully prosecuted the company for the unauthorised work off Milyeannup Coast Road. Litigation started in March.

Sentencing was yet to be determined in the matter.

Shire president Julia Meldrum said the determination validated the local government’s action to protect the environment after Blue Whale Farm Plantations was found to have cleared about 16ha of native bush illegally.

The site contained the rare and endangered floral species lambertia orbifolia, also known as roundleaf honeysuckle.

Ms Meldrum said the Shire had demonstrated its ongoing commitment to protecting the environment.

“Our beautiful, natural environment is a major part of what makes Augusta-Margaret River such a special place, and preserving the biodiversity of the region is important to our community,” she said.

“There are no winners when it comes to the destruction of the environment, and on behalf of our community we wanted to make a stand.

“While the result won’t change what has happened, we believe the ruling speaks to the importance of protecting vulnerable ecology.”

The president said rules and regulations existed to ensure developments were undertaken safely and considered the environment and neighbouring landholders.

“One of the ways we work to protect the environment is through our building development approval processes and landowners need to ensure they have secured the correct approvals before commencing any work on any property in the shire,” Ms Meldrum said.

“In this situation, flouting the rules has caused devastating destruction of extremely rare flora.”

The clearing was undertaken in 2022, with the shire successfully arguing the operators did not seek relevant approvals that led to four areas being cleared.

Penalties for the offences would be determined later this month.

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