$112,000 fine for land clearing

A DINGO couple were handed Queensland’s largest fine for illegal clearing of land in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on Monday.

Finlay and Valerie Cocks were fined $112,000 for illegally clearing an area the size of 475 rugby league fields.

They were also ordered to pay legal costs totalling more than $19,000.

The couple cleared 320 hectares of land on the property “Diamond Dee”, about 120km west of Rockhampton.

The clearing, which took place between September 18, 2005, and August, 3, 2006, was discovered through analysis of satellite imagery by the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study.

Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones said the record fine sent a strong message that environmental vandals would not be tolerated.

“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,” Ms Jones said.

But Friends of the Earth spokesman Drew Hutton said the fine showed the double standard applied to farmers and miners.

He said the fine was hypocritical compared to the treatment of the coal seam gas industry, which “was exempt from the State’s tree clearing laws and was busily clearing thousands of hectares of old growth woodland”.



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