Unlawful works on Murray River incur hefty penalties

Media release | 11 December 2018

A Corowa landowner and a contractor employed by him were fined $15,000 and $7,500 respectively after they pleaded guilty to unlawful works on a river system in Albury Local Court yesterday.

The prosecution was brought by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), the independent water compliance authority and is a warning to contractors that they are equally culpable if they don’t confirm legal consent had been obtained for works.

The NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, welcomed the judgement.

“These fines are a deterrent to landholders and contractors who think they can change a river corridor without thought for the environment or the community.

“Both parties were found guilty of breaching s91E (1) of the Water Management Act 2000, regarding unlawful controlled activities on waterfront land on the Murray River at Corowa.

“The landowner was found guilty of three offences and the contractor was convicted of one offence.

“Approvals are needed to ensure works are done in a way that minimises harm to waterfront land and other water users. The degree of environmental harm caused was reflected in the penalty," he said.

The unlawful works included construction of a retaining wall and concrete steps, and deposition of material: red gum sleepers, concrete, sand and turf. Both parties were also ordered to publish notices in the Border Mail newspaper detailing their offences and penalties, and to pay costs of $5000 each.

Mr Barnes said the current dry conditions highlighted the importance of protecting NSW’s precious water resources.

“In times of scarce supply every drop counts. The NRAR’s role in ensuring compliance with water regulations is more important than ever and we will have boots on the ground in key areas over the coming summer months to monitor water take,” he said.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au.

For further information about NRAR and what it does, visit www.industry.nsw.gov.au/ natural-resources-access-regulator.