Company fined by EPA

A COFFS Coast quarry company and its two directors have been fined $106,500 and ordered to pay the Environment Protection Authority's (EPA) $90,000 legal costs after intentionally exceeding the company's extraction limits on its Environment Protection Licence and also providing misleading information to the EPA.

Wyanga Holdings, now deregistered, and its former directors were sentenced by the Land and Environment Court after pleading guilty to four offences each of breaching the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

One director was fined $76,000 and other was fined $27,000.

The company was fined $3,500.

The company's Environment Protection Licence permitted it to extract 50,000 tonnes of material per year from its quarry at Corindi Beach.

However, the company breached this limit by 46,597 tonnes in 2011, 318,363 tonnes in 2012 and 31,512 tonnes in the first four months of 2013.

The court also found the company and its directors guilty of supplying misleading information to the EPA because it failed to report its contravention of the limit in its Annual Return for 2012.

The Court found that, while no actual environmental harm was caused, the licence breaches carried with them a "potential" or "risk" of harm to the environment in a general sense.

This was because the scale of extraction that was carried out had not been approved and therefore had not been the subject of environmental impact assessment and controlled with appropriate conditions.

The EPA suspended Wyanga Holdings' licence in August 2013 after it issued repeated warnings about the exceedances, which the company continued to ignore, said EPA Director North Branch Gary Davey.

After the court case, the licence has been revoked.

"The EPA puts strict legally enforceable conditions on licences to protect the environment and the local community, and when licensees blatantly ignore these we take it very seriously and will use the full suite of regulatory tools at our disposal," said Mr Davey.

The EPA must take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

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