Extensive illegal land clearing in Kimberley uncovered

Almost 2,000 hectares of pastoral land in the Kimberley has been cleared without a permit in the past five years.

Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC uncovered the information in response to questions in Parliament.

Following inspections by the Department of Environmental Regulation (DER) the major perpetrator, South African in West Australia (SAWA Pty Ltd), was granted a retrospective land clearing permit and escaped prosecution for its actions at Shamrock Station.

Other SAWA properties, Moola Bulla Station and Beefwod Park Station, are currently undergoing assessment by DER, in consideration of even larger areas of clearing without a permit.

The offences in question occurred on Moola Bulla Station - approximately 784 ha; Beefwood Park Station - approximately 821 ha; Shamrock Station - approximately 236 ha; Kilto Station - approximately 60 ha; El Questro Station - approximately 6 ha; and Thangoo Station - approximately 15 ha.

Mr Chapple said it was wrong of the Department not to prosecute over the illegal clearing of native vegetation on the stations in question.

“This inaction by the department sends out a message that it’s ok to clear native vegetation at will, without any kind of environmental assessment or authority to do so,” he said.

“It’s akin to allowing a thief to keep the items he has stolen with just a slap on the wrist.

“The Department of Environmental Regulation is doing a fantastically poor job of regulating and prosecuting environmental crimes.”

Mr Chapple said he hoped the illegal clearing at Moola Bulla Station and Beefwood Park Station, by far the largest allegations, would result in prosecutions.

“The government needs to send a strong message to leaseholders that this kind of practice will not be tolerated,” he said.

“The department should be there to regulate and protect our natural environment, not facilitate its destruction.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

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