Grazier may face $166,500 fine

A PROSECUTOR has asked a Rockhampton magistrate to impose at least a $120,000 fine on a Dingo grazier who cleared endangered vegetation on his land.

Reginald Edward Draper, 42, contracted a man to clear vegetation off his property, Orange Grove, between April and July last year.

He pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court to carrying out a development on his property without a permit.

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin, representing Robert Black from the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), has asked Magistrate John McGrath to set a fine of between $120,000 and $130,000 for the offence.

The maximum fine is $166,500.

But Draper’s barrister Phillip Sheridan said the clearing was an unfortunate error as he had strayed into the endangered vegetation while clearing other land nearby.

He said a large fine would cause him “extreme financial hardship”.

Among the land cleared was 226 hectares of endangered vegetation, which included brigalow trees.

Mr Devlin told the court an expert report showed “the clearing has had a significant adverse impact on regional ecosystems in the area”.

DERM began investigating Draper after receiving a tip-off on July 2, 2009 and subsequent investigations using satellite imaging showed that land had been cleared from April 30.

Mr Devlin said Draper told a contractor he had a permit to clear the land.

The magistrate has adjourned the sentencing to a date to be fixed.

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