Dingo graziers given $112,000 fine

TWO Dingo graziers have been hit with a record $112,000 fine for illegally clearing remnant native vegetation equivalent to the size of 475 rugby league fields.

In the Rockhampton Magistrate’s Court on Monday, husband and wife Finlay and Valerie Cocks received the penalty for clearing more than 320ha on their property known as Diamond Dee, located at Coomoo, near Dingo.

It was the second successful illegal land clearing prosecution in Central Queensland for the Department of Environment and Resource Management in recent months with Reginald Draper, also of Dingo, fined $110,000 in November, 2010, after he pleaded guilty to clearing 225ha of endangered remnant vegetation at his Orange Grove property.

Mr Draper contracted a worker for $73,000 to clear the land on unknown dates between April 30 and July 11, 2009.

DERM Minister Kate Jones said the Cocks’ fine sent a strong message that environmental vandals would not be tolerated in Queensland.

“This sort of illegal clearing is a huge threat to vulnerable wildlife in the Central Queensland region,” she said.

“Scientists evaluating the impact of the clearing have warned a number of threatened or endangered species may have lost key habitat, making them even more vulnerable. This is exactly why our government has introduced tough vegetation management laws – to protect endangered wildlife and ensure important vegetation crucial to the health of our environment and Queensland’s high biodiversity values is preserved.

“The record fine makes it clear – people who flout these laws will face tough penalties.”

The Cocks were ordered to pay more than $19,000 in legal costs.

The clearing, which took place between September 18, 2005, and August 3, 2006, was uncovered through analysis of satellite imagery by DERM’s statewide landcover and trees study.

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